Parkinson’s disease has been a rare disorder for most of human history. Yet a combination of aging demographics and byproducts of industrialization may have created a Parkinson’s pandemic, according to a 2018 review of studies in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.
In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that disability and death due to Parkinson’s disease are increasing faster than for any other neurological disorder, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Parkinson’s Has Become a ‘Pandemic’
In 1817, Dr. James Parkinson first described the condition in London. It was rare, and he only found six individuals with the disease.
However, 200 years later, in 2015, over 6 million individuals lived with it, according to the 2018 review. Furthermore, findings indicate that the number of people with Parkinson’s disease is predicted to double from 6 million in 2015 to over 12 million by 2040, primarily due to aging.
According to the Global Burden of Disease study, neurological disorders are currently the leading source of disability worldwide. The fastest-growing of these in age-standardized rates of prevalence, disability, and deaths, is Parkinson’s disease.
The 2018 review of studies finds Parkinson’s, while noninfectious, exhibits traits that identify it as a “pandemic” disease.
In the United States, it was previously thought that there were about 60,000 diagnoses of Parkinson’s annually, but a new study in the journal NPJ Parkinson’s Disease revealed that the incidence is actually 50 percent higher than former estimates.
Besides steeply increasing prevalence and diagnosis rates, Parkinson’s has other similarities to a pandemic disease.
Like a pandemic illness, it extends over large geographic areas. Parkinson’s is increasing everywhere but appears to be shifting in response to population aging and industrialization changes.
Read More: Parkinson’s Disease Has Become a Pandemic, Possible Causes