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A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop Parkinson’s disease with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Factors that may increase your chance of Parkinson's disease:


Most people develop Parkinson’s disease after the age of 50 (age of onset ranges from 35-85). It is relatively unusual to develop Parkinson’s disease before the age of 40, although it is certainly possible.


Men are about 1.5 times more likely than women to develop Parkinson’s disease.


A number of genes have been associated with Parkinson's disease. Generally, people with these abnormal genes develop Parkinson's disease before the age of 50. This type of Parkinson's tends to run in families. However, the vast majority of Parkinson's disease occurs in older individuals (over the age of 60), and the role of genetics in these individuals is less clear.


Research suggests that blacks and Asians have a slightly lower rate of Parkinson’s disease than Caucasians.

Occupational and Environmental Factors

Exposure to chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides, is thought to increase your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. You also have a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease if you live in a rural area, drink well water, or live on a farm. This may be due to an increased exposure to herbicides and pesticides.

Other Health Conditions

You may have a higher risk of Parkinson's disease if you had certain health conditions, such as:


Alves G, Forsaa EB, Pedersen KF, Dreetz Gjerstad M, Larsen JP. Epidemiology of Parkinson’s disease. J Neurology. 2008;255(suppl 5):18-32.

Dachsel JC, Farrer MJ. LRRK2 and Parkinson disease. Arch Neurol. 2010;67(5):542-547.

Kamel L. Epidemiology. Path’s from pesticides to Parkinson’s. Science. 2013;341(6147):722-723.

Obeso JA, Rodriguez-Oroz MC, Goetz CG, et al. Missing pieces in the Parkinson’s disease puzzle. Nature Medicine. 2010;16(6):653-661.

Parkinson disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated September 11, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Parkinson disease. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated September 2015. Accessed June 16, 2016.

11/16/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance Spinks A, Wasiak J, Bernath V, Villaneuva E. Scopolamine (hyoscine) for preventing and treating motion sickness. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(4):CD002851.

4/7/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance Marras C, Hincapié CA, Kristman VL, et al. Systematic review of the risk of Parkinson's disease after mild traumatic brain injury: results of the international collaboration on mild traumatic brain injury prognosis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014;95(3S):S238-S244.

Last reviewed June 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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