Exploratory Research Regarding Parkinson’s Disease and Alcohol Consumption

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, sponsors Neuroprotection Exploratory Trials in Parkinson’s Disease (NET-PD). NET-PD was a series of clinical research studies conducted at more than 50 centers across the country in an effort to find drugs to slow the progression of Parkinson’s.

Recruitment for the pilot NET-PD studies is now complete, and testing of the potential neuroprotective agents is underway. Compounds that appear promising in this pilot phase may have been evaluated in larger, more definitive Phase III trials. Furthermore, if additional neuroprotective agents show sufficient promise, it is also possible that additional pilot studies may be developed.

Participating in a clinical study allows you to play an active role in developing future treatments for diseases.  For current studies please visit clinicaltrials.gov.

For more information about Parkinson’s disease research, visit the NINDS PD research page.

Parkinson’s Disease Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a link between alcohol consumption and Parkinson’s Disease?

According to research findings released May 4th, 2020 and reported on AJMC, men with modest alcohol consumption are at a greater risk of getting Parkinson’s when compared to very light drinkers. However, the research concluded that there is no significant link between alcohol consumption and the risk of Parkinson’s Disease.  The study references research publications from PubMed.gov and is supported by national alcohol and drug recovery resource, victoryoflife.com.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a condition involving the nervous system that affects movement, which often includes tremors. Nerve cell damage in the brain causes dopamine levels to drop, leading to the abnormal movements caused by the disease. Learn more here.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

There are a range of symptoms and signs of Parkinson’s Disease and they can differ from person to person.  Typically, symptoms start on one side of the body and tend to remain worse on that side.

Known symptoms and signs include:

  • Tremors. Trembling (or shaking) typically starts in a limb, commonly your hands or fingers. This may include rubbing your thumb and forefinger back and forth, also known as a pill-rolling tremor. These tremors are not uncommon even if your hands are at rest.
  • Bradykinesia (Slowed movement). Parkinson’s disease may gradually reduce your movement, which can make simple tasks time consuming and more difficult. When you walk your steps may become shorter, and it may be difficult to simply stand up out of a chair. Dragging your feet as you try to walk is not uncommon either.
  • Stiff muscles. Muscle rigidness may occur in any part of your body. This can limit your range of motion and be painful.
  • Balance and posture impairment. Your posture may end up being stooped, or you may have balance problems caused by the disease.
  • Loss of automatic movements. You may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.
  • Changes in speech. You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than have the usual inflections.
  • Difficulty writing. Your writing may appear smaller, and it may become difficult to write.

Is there a cure for Parkinson’s Disease?

Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment that can cure Parkinson’s Disease. However, there are certain treatments readily available to aid in easing the signs and symptoms. 

How is Parkinson’s Disease treated?

Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease varies by patient and is based on a persons signs and symptoms. Treatments can consist of surgical therapy, medications and certain lifestyle changes.

There are many drugs offered to treat signs and symptoms. However, none of them are known to completely reverse the impacts of the condition. It is typically recommended for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease to take a variety of these medicines.

What causes Parkinson’s Disease?

It is unknown what causes Parkinson’s disease. However, there are certain factors that play a role:

  • Genetics. Research has identified that Parkinson’s Disease can be caused be certain genetic mutations. These tend to be unlikely except in specific cases with more than one family member that has history of the disease.

    With that said, there are certain gene variations that have been found to increase the chances of Parkinson’s Disease (uncommon).

  • Environment. Research has found that exposure to specific toxins or environmental triggers may increase the likelihood Parkinson’s disease.

How is Parkinson’s Disease diagnosed?

There is no specific test designed to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease. Neurologists diagnose the disease based on a patients signs and symptoms, medical history and physical examination.

Can Parkinson’s Disease affect speech?

Parkinson’s Disease may cause change in speech and speech difficulty. Here are some of the changes that may be observed:

  • Voice might get softer, or hoarse, which can cause others to have a hard time to hear what is being said.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Mumbling.
  • Monotone tone of voice.
  • Hard time finding the proper words.
  • Difficulty participating in fast paced conversations.

Can Parkinson’s Disease cause hallucinations?

Yes. These are potential symptoms of Parkinson’s disease often referred to as PD psychosis. Typically, hallucinations are a result of side effects from medications prescribed for the disease. These hallucinations can be:

  • visual (seen)
  • auditory (heard)
  • olfactory (smelled)
  • tactile (felt)
  • gustatory (tasted)

Can Parkinson’s Disease affect the heart?

Parkinson’s Disease is best known for causing neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH). However, it can also cause heart rhythm abnormalities.  It continues to be unknown how significant are the consequences of these abnormalities.

Heart conditions such as coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy are not thought to belong to the pathology of Parkinson’s Disease, but can co-exist. If you or someone you know is suffering from chest pain, please contact your cardiologist for a cardiac evaluation.

Disclaimer: Some of the content on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only. NINDS is no longer affiliated with this website and does not update this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.