Alcohol consumption does not seem to increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, according to data from a large European study.
The study, “Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Parkinson’s Disease: Data from a Large Prospective European Cohort,” was published in the journal Movement Disorders.
Although the specific causes underlying Parkinson’s are still not fully understood, it is believed the disease results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Some studies have suggested that coffee drinking and cigarette smoking are both associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s, although the mechanisms by which they exert their effects are still unknown.
Alcohol consumption is another environmental factor that has been hypothesized as potentially linked to the onset of Parkinson’s.
Although three large U.S. studies have found little or no evidence for a decreased risk of Parkinson’s in association with total alcohol consumption, one of the studies found that drinking specific alcoholic beverages was associated with different effects regarding Parkinson’s risk. For instance, drinking beer in moderation seemed to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s, while consuming liquor correlated with a higher risk.
To explore the relationship between alcohol consumption and Parkinson’s risk, an international group of researchers analyzed data from 209,998 adults who were part of the NeuroEPIC4PD, a subset of European individuals within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study.
Researchers created short-term risk estimates for average alcohol consumption based on data gathered the year before individuals enrolled into NeuroEPIC4PD. Long-term risk estimates that took into account information gathered over the individuals’ lifetime — from the age of 20 — were also evaluated.
Investigators also assessed the risks of Parkinson’s associated with consumption of specific types of alcoholic beverages.
From the large group of individuals included in the analyses, 694 had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
Investigators found no associations between alcohol consumption and Parkinson’s risk. This was true for both short- and long-term risk estimates on the overall population, as well as in subpopulations stratified by sex.
However, analyses did find that men who consumed alcohol in moderation (5–29.9 g/day) had an approximately 50% higher risk of developing Parkinson’s than those who were light alcohol drinkers (0.1–4.9 g/day).
Researchers found no associations between any type of alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, fortified wine, liquor, and spirits) and Parkinson’s risk.
“Overall, our data support previous findings from large U.S. prospective studies that there is no association between alcohol consumption and the risk of [Parkinson’s disease],” the researchers concluded.
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