The Parkinson Pandemic and April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Every April, the Parkinson’s Foundation seeks to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease (PD) during Parkinson’s Awareness Month. World Parkinson’s Day is observed on April 11, during which time Parkinson’s organizations seek to raise donations to fund the ongoing research to find a cure, prevention or better treatment strategies for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.The Parkinson’s Foundation calls on people with Parkinson’s to share any tips that can be helpful to people living with Parkinson’s.

The Parkinson Pandemic

Parkinson’s disease was for a long time a rare human disorder, but today is on the rise and is threatening to become a world-wide pandemic. Parkinson’s is speculated to rise to one million cases in the United States by 2020. Even though it is not an infectious disease, it is being referred to as a pandemic, as it is spreading and increasing all over the world. It particularly spreads to nations where industrialization has spread. A recent study by researchers from the University of Rochester published December 18, 2018 in the IOS Press, speculates that the number of people with Parkinson’s disease could rise to over 17 million world-wide by 2040, which is higher than the previously projected number of 12 million by 2040.

Parkinson’s is World’s Fastest Growing Neurodegenerative Disease

According to the Global Burden of Disease study, neurological disorders are the leading cause of world-wide disability. Parkinson’s is the second most commonly found neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurodegenerative disease. From 1990 to 2015 the numbers of people with Parkinson’s rose to over six million.

Speculated Reasons for the Rise in Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers speculate that Parkinson’s is on the rise for the following reasons:


The risk for Parkinson’s increases with age, especially around age 65. Increasing longevity will result in larger populations of seniors, as global life expectancy has increased by six years over the last 20 years. Increasing longevity may result in a 12% increase in the numbers of Parkinson’s cases. This will also lead to higher numbers of people who will need long-term skilled nursing care in residential facilities and this will increase the economic burden of Parkinson’s.

However, Parkinson’s does not only affect seniors but there is an early onset kind of Parkinson’s that strikes people under the age of 50.

Increased Industrialization

Increased industrialization is linked to an increase in the prevalence of Parkinson’s Disease. Increased industrialization with the use of pesticides like paraquat, solvents like trichloroethylene and heavy metals have been linked to Parkinson’s disease. In fact, the nations like China that have had the fastest rise to industrialization have also shown the greatest increase in the numbers of people with Parkinson’s disease.

Decline in Smoking

Lower rates of smoking may be associated with an increased risk for Parkinson’s, as research has shown that smoking can lower risk for Parkinson’s by about 40%. In fact, the drop in the numbers of people who smoke could possibly raise the risk for Parkinson’s by 10%.

Parkinson’s Increases as the Socioeconomic Level Improves

Whereas most diseases are associated with a reduced rate, as the socioeconomic level improves, the incidence of Parkinson’s actually increases with socioeconomic improvements. In fact, Parkinson’s is the only neurological disorder that increases in numbers that is associated with an increase in income, higher education and fertility.

Today the Lifetime Risk for Contracting Parkinson’s Disease is 1 in 15

Today, probably due to industrialization, the lifetime risk for contracting Parkinson’s disease is 1 in 15.

Activism and Forming a PACT is Needed to Prevent a Parkinson’s Pandemic

Since other major pandemics like polio, HIV and breast cancer were helped by activism, the researchers suggest that people with Parkinson’s or who are at a risk for Parkinson’s should form a “PACT” to raise awareness among the public to call for a decrease or ban in the pesticides, solvents and other chemicals that have been associated with a high risk for contracting Parkinson’s disease. This way millions may be protected from the terrible effects of Parkinson’s disease. Also, there is a need for more funding to finance research to find more about the causes of Parkinson’s and how to prevent it and also for more effective treatments for Parkinson’s disease. The main drug used today is Levodopa and has been in use for 50 years.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease causes the following symptoms:

  • Tremors at rest
  • Rigid Muscles
  • Chewing problems
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Problems with speaking
  • Inability to smell things
  • Problems with gait and walking called the Parkinsonian Gait which is a kind of shuffling kind of walking.
  • Problems with balance and coordination
  • Urinary problems
  • Constipation
  • Sleep disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes memory problems and depression

Eating Fish may Prevent Parkinson’s Disease

A study published April 3, 2018 in Scientific Reports showed that a kind of protein in fish called B-parvalbumin (PV) prevents the amyloid formation of a-synuclein that is associated with the development of Parkinson’s disease. Herring, cod, salmon and carp were found to be the most effective kinds of fish for achieving this.

Long-Term Care

As Parkinson’s advances, there may come a time when it is necessary to find long-term solutions like skilled nursing care. The Park Crescent Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in East Orange, New Jersey is a skilled long-term nursing care facility that is equipped to help seniors suffering with Parkinson’s. Their excellent team has physical, and occupational therapists and they also have a fantastic recreational therapy department.


Let us hope that enough awareness of Parkinson’s disease will lead to a major effort to
Find a cure or way of slowing it in its downward progression.

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