No Conclusive Link Between Alcohol Consumption and Parkinson's

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A review of medical literature over a 15-year period has not found conclusive evidence of a relationship between alcohol consumption and Parkinson’s disease.

Silvana Bettiol, PhD, MPH, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, Australia, and colleagues, looked at studies published between 2000 and 2014 dealing with the relationship between alcohol consumption and its impact on Parkinson’s risk. Based on their criteria, 16 articles were identified, all from peer-reviewed journals.

All the studies included had to include a control group, a way to measure the addiction between quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption and Parkinson’s risk, and adjust for confounding factors such as smoking and age.

The inconsistent conclusions found among the studies may be the result of how the control were selected, difficulties in retrospective assessment of alcohol consumption, differences in follow-up periods and vary definitions of drinkers and non-drinkers, the researchers reported in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

Also, among studies in which alcohol consumption and Parkinson’s incidence was measured accurately over time, only non-significant associations were found.

“This study highlights the need for more prospective studies investigating the relationship between alcohol and PD of adequate sample size,” Bettiol said in a statement.

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Inconsistent conclusion among studies looking at the association may be the result of retrospective assessments, definition of drinkers.

For many years, researchers have been investigating whether there are any associations between Parkinson's disease (PD) and lifestyle choices such as smoking and coffee and alcohol consumption. In a review published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, the literature concerning alcohol consumption presents conflicting information.

A systematic review of the relevant literature from 2000-2014, from observational studies, found little evidence for either a positive or negative effect on PD risk from alcohol consumption. When weak associations were observed in some reports, the authors found that the studies were at greater risk of selection and recall bias, which could compromise the effects found.

Sixteen articles that met the criteria for inclusion were identified. All were primary research articles, published in English in peer-reviewed journals.

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