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In-home Pesticide Exposure and Parkinson's Risk

Pesticide use and exposure in the home and garden increase the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a study of almost 500 people newly diagnosed with the disease. Researchers announced their findings at the American Academy of Neurology's 52nd annual meeting.

"This study is the largest yet of newly diagnosed individuals with Parkinson's disease and it is the first study to show a significant association between home pesticide use and the risk of developing Parkinson's disease," said study lead author Lorene Nelson, PhD, a neuroepidemiologist at Stanford University School of Medicine. The preliminary results from this study mirror what is already known about the increased risk of Parkinson's disease associated with occupational exposure to pesticides.

The researchers questioned 496 people who had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease about past use of pesticides. Each patient was asked if they had used or been exposed to insecticides in the home or garden, herbicides or weed killers in the garden, or fungicides to control mold or mildew in the home or garden. Researchers asked detailed questions about past pesticide use including first exposures and frequency of pesticide contact.

The Parkinson's patients' lifetime histories were then compared to 541 people without the disease.

  • *People who had been exposed to pesticides were almost two times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than people not exposed to pesticides.
  • *In-home exposure to insecticides carried the highest risk of developing the disease and doubled the risk.
  • *Past exposure to herbicides was also associated with increased Parkinson's.

Damage to nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra leads to the movement difficulties characteristic of Parkinson's disease. Therefore, people exposed to chemicals that have a particular affinity for this region of the brain may be at particular risk for developing the disease.

"Certain chemicals that an individual is exposed to in the environment may cause selective death of brain cells or neurons," stated Nelson.

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It seems this is further evidence that Parkinson's disease has multiple causes for the single expression of the disease.

Offered in memory of my Grandfather, Eugene Haas, a fine man and loving grandfather who died of Parkinson's due to an infectious source.

Dr. J

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