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Exposure to Pesticides, Solvents Linked to Parkinson’s Disease Risk: Study

  • Written by: Martha Garcia

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A new study provides further evidence that many common pesticides and other solvents may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.   

Researchers conducted an analysis of 104 existing cohort and case control studies conducted between 1975 and 2011 focusing on pesticides and other common weed killers and solvents. The new study, published in the journal Neurology on May 23, found an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease with a higher exposure to pesticides, an association found in other recent research as well.

Dr. Emanuele Cereda of IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy headed up the study, which revealed pesticides increased the risk of Parkinson’s disease by nearly 60%.

The study revealed the risk for Parkinson’s disease increased with exposure to any type of pesticide, herbicide or solvent. Participants who were exposed to paraquat, maneb or mancozeb doubled their risk of developing the disease. Researchers found people living in rural areas or working in the farming industry had a higher risk associated with the disease.

Paraquat, a toxic chemical to humans and animals, is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. Maneb and mancozeb are both fungicides. Maneb was recently included in a biocide ban by the Swedish Chemicals Agency, which was approved by the European Parliament.

Parkinson’s disease affects more than 500,000 Americans, with approximately 50,000 new cases each year. It is a brain disorder that results in the loss of motor function, often leading to increased imbalance and shaking. There is no known cure for the disease, which is the 14th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Previous Studies Also Found a Correlation

Researchers say the study doesn’t prove a cause and effect relationship between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease, but note that the research points to correlation that has been backed up with other similar studies in the past.

Research published last year found people who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and are exposed to paraquat experience an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s; a risk which more than triples after suffering a head injury. Recent research also revealed a link between the use of the common weed killer Roundup and developing Parkinson’s disease, among other serious health problems like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism.

Scientists believe that the risk linked to Roundup is due to the active ingredient glyphosate.

Roundup is the most popular weed killer in the world. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 180 million pounds of Roundup are used each year. This study was of particular concern, considering the wide us of the product by consumers in a widespread residential setting to treat household lawn and gardens.

A study conducted in 2011 also added to the mounting research linking certain chemicals to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. The research conducted by the Parkinson’s Institute found industrial cleaning chemicals and metal degreasers containing tricholoethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PERC), often found in spot removers, degreasers and paint removers, resulted in a ten-fold increase of a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s.

The new study indicates an increased need for further research concerning the disease and its potential catalysts, such as pesticides, herbicides and other harmful chemicals which put countless Americans at risk each year.

Health experts recommend people who use pesticides, herbicides or other chemical solvents should avoid direct contact with the chemicals or wear skin and respiratory protection when using the products.

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