Environmental risk factors and Parkinson's disease: An umbrella review of meta-analyses

Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2016 Feb:23:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2015.12.008. Epub 2015 Dec 17.


Background: Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder with complex pathogenesis implicating both environmental and genetic factors. We aimed to summarise the environmental risk factors that have been studied for potential association with Parkinson's disease, assess the presence of diverse biases, and identify the risk factors with the strongest support.

Methods: We searched PubMed from inception to September 18, 2015, to identify systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies that examined associations between environmental factors and Parkinson's disease. For each meta-analysis we estimated the summary effect size by random-effects and fixed-effects models, the 95% confidence interval and the 95% prediction interval. We estimated the between-study heterogeneity expressed by I(2), evidence of small-study effects and evidence of excess significance bias.

Results: Overall, 75 unique meta-analyses on different risk factors for Parkinson's disease were examined, covering diverse biomarkers, dietary factors, drugs, medical history or comorbid diseases, exposure to toxic environmental agents and habits. 21 of 75 meta-analyses had results that were significant at p < 0.001 by random-effects. Evidence for an association was convincing (more than 1000 cases, p < 10(-6) by random-effects, not large heterogeneity, 95% prediction interval excluding the null value and absence of hints for small-study effects and excess significance bias) for constipation, and physical activity.

Conclusion: Many environmental factors have substantial evidence of association with Parkinson's disease, but several, perhaps most, of them may reflect reverse causation, residual confounding, information bias, sponsor conflicts or other caveats.

Keywords: Environment; Epidemiology; Meta-analysis; Parkinson's disease; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology*
  • Risk Factors