Study Bolsters Link Between Pesticides, Parkinson's Disease

For the first time, the association between Parkinson's disease and exposure to pesticides has been shown in patients with the neurological disorder compared with their unaffected relatives, according to a study in the online open access journal BMC Neurology.

Parkinson's disease is a common neurological disorder affecting about 1 million people in the United States. The disorder typically develops in later life resulting in symptoms such as tremors and muscle rigidity

Although variations in several genes have been identified that contribute to the disease, these rare genetic defects account for a small proportion of the overall prevalence of the disorder.

The majority of Parkinson's disease cases are thought to be due to an interaction between genetic and environmental factors.

"Previous studies have shown that individuals with Parkinson's disease are over twice as likely to report being exposed to pesticides as unaffected individuals" said the study's lead author, Dana Hancock, "but few studies have looked at this association in people from the same family or have assessed associations between specific classes of pesticides and Parkinson's disease."

The study of related individuals who share environmental and genetic backgrounds that might contribute to Parkinson's disease enables researchers to identify specific differences in exposures between individuals with and without the disease. The research team from Duke University Medical Center (Durham, NC) and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Morris K. Udall Parkinson Disease Research Center of Excellence (Miami, FL, USA) recruited 319 patients and over 200 relatives. They used telephone interviews to obtain histories of pesticide exposure, living or working on a farm, and well-water drinking.

The authors detected an association between pesticide use and Parkinson's disease. Among these, the strongest were between the disorder and use of herbicides and insecticides, such as organochlorides and organophosphates. No association was found between Parkinson's disease and well-water drinking or living or working on a farm, which are two commonly used proxies for pesticide exposures.

Many studies have supported pesticides as a risk factor for PD, but "biological evidence is presently insufficient to conclude that pesticide exposure causes PD," said Hancock. "Further investigation of these specific pesticides and others may lead to identification of pertinent biological pathways influencing PD development."

In addition future genetic studies of Parkinson's disease should consider the influence of pesticides, since exposure to pesticides may provide a trigger for the disease in genetically predisposed individuals.

Download Center

  • EHS Buyer's Guide

    Download this buyer's guide to make more informed decisions as you're looking for an EHS management software system for your organization.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - September 2021

    September 2021

    Featuring:

    • COMBUSTIBLE DUST
      Managing Combustible Dust and Risk Mitigation
    • PPE: CONSTRUCTION
      The Rising Popularity of Safety Helmets on the Jobsite
    • PPE: ELECTRICAL SAFETY
      Five Tips for a Successful Wear Trial
    • SAFETY & HEALTH
      Medical Surveillance Versus Medical Screening
    View This Issue