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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Blog arrow PARKINSONíS DISEASE AND PESTICIDES
PARKINSONíS DISEASE AND PESTICIDES
Annals of Neurology, June 4, 2009
Yet another study has shown a link between exposure to pesticides and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. This time a link has been confirmed between on-the-job pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease, and suggests that certain insecticides may be particularly risky.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative brain condition in which dopamine-producing cells in the brain gradually die off or malfunction. Dopamine helps regulate movement, and as Parkinson's progresses, people have increasing difficulty walking, talking and performing simple tasks.

This latest study, published in the Annals of Neurology, provides evidence that occupational pesticide exposure may be one of those environmental triggers. French researchers found that among nearly 800 adults with and without Parkinson's, agricultural workers exposed to pesticides -- including insecticides, weed killers and fungicides -- were at greater risk of the disease. The risk increased with the amount of time a worker was exposed, strengthening the case for a cause-effect relationship, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Alexis Elbaz of INSERM, the national French institute for health research in Paris. "We showed that the risk increased with the number of years or hours of exposure," said Elbaz. "We also found that in men, among the main groups of pesticides -- fungicides, herbicides, insecticides -- the association was the strongest for insecticides, and among insecticides, the organochlorine insecticides. "In general, men exposed to organochlorine insecticides had more than double the risk of men with no exposure.”

Organochlorines are highly persistent in the environment and commonly used. It’s quite possible that lower, but more long-term exposure in the home could significantly affect risk. These pesticides work by affecting pest neurological function. It’s becoming more and clearer that the people using these pesticides are also being affected.