Association between essential tremor and other neurodegenerative diseases: What is the epidemiological evidence?

Hiral Laroia, Elan D. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Background: The possible links between essential tremor (ET) and Parkinson's disease (PD) and, more recently, between ET and Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been of great interest, particularly with the emergence of postmortem data suggesting that ET itself may be a neurodegenerative disease. Given the very high population prevalence of ET, its possible role as a risk factor for PD and AD is of special significance. At the center of this debate is the burgeoning evidence from epidemiological studies, examining whether there is an increased co-occurrence of these conditions within the same individuals or within families. Methods: We conducted a PubMed search from 1966 to March 2011 and reviewed the epidemiological evidence, restricting our analyses to studies that generated quantifiable measures of association (odds ratios or relative risks), thereby being able to assess the role of chance. Results: The most robust evidence, from case-control, prospective and familial aggregation studies, indicates that ET is associated with increased odds and increased risks of both PD and AD. Conclusions: There is reasonable epidemiological evidence to support a link between ET and these neurodegenerative diseases. Further studies are needed to corroborate the current results, provide additional estimates of effect and begin to explore the mechanistic underpinnings for these intriguing associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Dementia
  • Epidemiology
  • Essential tremor
  • Neurodegenerative condition
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical Neurology


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