Study finds link between pesticide use and Parkinson’s disease

A new study delving into the link between Parkinson’s and pesticides, found exposure to killers of weeds, fungus and bugs or solvents increases the risk of the incurable degenerative disease.

According to experts, the threat of the brain disorder was elevated among people living in a rural setting.

Lead study author Dr. Emanuele Cereda, who is with the IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy stated, “Exposure to pesticides and solvents may be a modifier of the progression of Parkinson’s disease as well as a risk factor for the development of the disease, so clinicians should not only encourage patients to avoid further exposure to these compounds but also make them aware that treatments could be less effective than expected.”

104 studies reviewed
In order to establish an association between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease, the researchers conducted a study. They reviewed 104 studies on the subject published between 1975 and 2011.

As a part of the study, investigators also evaluated the proximity of exposure, such as country living, work occupation and well water drinking.

The analysis revealed exposure to pesticides and solvents raised the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 33 to 80 per cent. Agents such as weed killer paraquat, fungicides maneb and mancozeb exhibited an increased risk that was twofold for developing Parkinson’s.

Dr Cereda added, “We didn’t study whether the type of exposure, such as whether the compound was inhaled or absorbed through the skin and the method of application, such as spraying or mixing, affected Parkinson’s risk.

“However, our study suggests that the risk increases in a dose response manner as the length of exposure to these chemicals increases.”

The study was published in Neurology.

Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative movement disorder of the central nervous system caused by the death of cells in the brain that secrete the neurotransmitter dopamine.

The highly dangerous disease is characterized by body tremors, rigidity, slow movement, muffled speech, poor balance, and difficulty in walking. Signs of the disease first tend to appear in patients over 50.

The disease is chronic and progressive with symptoms growing steadily worse over time. In the later stages the condition can include cognitive and behavioral disturbance, sleep disorders, lack of appetite, difficulty eating, periods of remaining motionless (known as “freezing”).

Drugs may help keep the symptoms quiet for some span of time, but not completely, and not always over the long term. The disease is thought to be due to an interaction between genetic and environmental factors.

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, the disorder affects nearly 60,000 Americans each year.

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