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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Blog arrow PARKINSON'S DISEASE AND PESTICIDE EXPOSURE
PARKINSON'S DISEASE AND PESTICIDE EXPOSURE
Scientists have found further evidence of a link between Parkinson's disease (PD) and long-term exposure to pesticides. A study of more than 300 people with the neurological disease - which can affect movements such as walking, talking and writing - found that sufferers were more than twice as likely to report heavy exposure to pesticides over their lifetime as family members without the disease.
This is not a new finding as previous studies have pointed to a link between pesticide exposure and Parkinson's. The majority of cases are thought to be a result of an interaction between genes and the environment.

The new research, led by American scientists, looked at the lifetime pesticide exposure of 319 Parkinson's patients and more than 200 of their relatives without the disease. The results, published March 28, 2008 in the journal BMC Neurology, showed that people with Parkinson's were 1.6 times as likely to report an exposure to pesticides in their lifetimes compared with the controls.

In addition, people with the Parkinson's were 2.4 times as likely as people without the disease to report heavy exposure to pesticides, classed as more than 215 days over a lifetime.

"In this dataset, these tended to be people who used a lot of pesticides in their homes and in their hobbies," said William Scott of the University of Miami, who took part in the study. The researchers added that future genetic studies of Parkinson's could consider the influence of pesticides, because exposure to these chemicals may trigger the disease in genetically predisposed people. Key role

Kieran Breen, director of research at the Parkinson's Disease Society (PDS), said: "The association between pesticides and Parkinson's has been recognized for some time, and this study supports this link and strengthens the fact that pesticides play a key role.

The PDS has carried out a survey of more than 10,000 people with Parkinson's and preliminary results show that 9% had long-term pesticide or herbicide exposure, which is defined as exposure for more than a year. Symptoms of the disease first tend to appear when a patient is older than 50, and can include tremors and muscle rigidity.

The strongest associations were between people with Parkinson's who had been exposed to herbicide and insecticide chemicals such as organochlorides and organophosphates. These chemicals are known nerve toxins. It's not much of a stretch to predict that they would play an important part in the development of neurological disease like Parkinson's.

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