(HealthDay News) – Smoking, head injury, pesticide exposure, and farming are potential environmental and lifestyle risk factors for developing idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD).

Ron B. Postuma, MD, of McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues conducted a multicenter case-controlled study involving 347 patients with idiopathic RBD and 347 controls to determine which environmental and lifestyle risk factors may be contributing factors.

Eighty-one percent of the participants were male and the average age was 67.7 years. The researchers found that smokers were 43% more likely than nonsmokers to have idiopathic RBD, and participants with a previous head injury were 59% more likely to have the disorder. Those with idiopathic RBD had fewer years of formal schooling. Finally, those who reported previous work as a farmer or previous occupational pesticide exposure were 67 and 116%, respectively, more likely to have the disorder. Caffeine and alcohol use were not different between those with and without the sleep disorder.

“We found potential environmental/lifestyle risk factors for idiopathic RBD, including head injury, occupational pesticide exposure, low education, farming, and cigarette smoking,” the authors write. “Although these partially resemble risk factors for Parkinson’s disease and dementia, they also differ in important ways, suggesting that RBD may have an independent risk profile.”

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