Risk Factors Identified for REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

REM sleep behavior disorder is a risk factor for disorders including Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia that may precede those disorders by decades. Research now indicates that smoking, head injury, pesticide exposure, farming and lower levels of education may be risk factors for RBD.

REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is more common in men and in older people, but occurs in only 0.5 percent of adults, making it difficult to gather enough patients for a full study. Ronald B. Postuma, MD, MSc at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, the lead author of the paper, worked with 13 institutions and 10 countries on the study, to determine if the risk factors for RBD were the same as Parkinson’s disease.

Interestingly, the results were mixed. Pesticides proved to be a risk factor in RBD as it is in Parkinson’s disease, but smoking, which is a protective factor in Parkinson’s, was a risk factor in RBD. Coffee, which is also protective in Parkinson’s, was not demonstrated to have any relationship to RBD.

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