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Parkinson's Disease - Cause

Low levels of dopamine, a brain chemical involved in controlling movement, cause symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Low levels happen when nerve cells in a part of the brain that makes dopamine break down. The exact cause of this breakdown isn't known.

Scientists are looking for links between Parkinson's disease and genetics, aging, toxins in the environment, and free radicals. Although these studies are beginning to provide some answers, experts don't know the exact cause of the disease.

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Only a small percentage of people with Parkinson's have a parent, brother, or sister who has the disease. But abnormal genes do seem to be a factor in a few families where early-onset Parkinson's is common.

There are many other causes of parkinsonism, which is a group of symptoms that includes tremor, muscle stiffness, slow movement, and unsteady walking. Parkinsonism mimics Parkinson's disease, but in fact is not Parkinson's disease.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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