Pesticide exposure linked to risk of Parkinson's disease

April 23, 2009 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Pesticide exposure linked to risk of Parkinson's disease

In animal research, pesticides trigger a neurodegenerative process that leads to Parkinson's disease. Now, researchers at UCLA provide the first evidence for a similar process in humans.

In a new epidemiological study, researchers enrolled 368 long-time California residents diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and 341 non-residents others as a control group. After mapping out areas exposed to certain pesticides, researchers interviewed the residents to obtain health information.

Reported in the April 15, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that people who lived within 500 meters of fields sprayed between 1974 and 1999 had a 75-percent increased risk for Parkinson's disease.

For people 60 years old or younger diagnosed with Parkinson's, early exposure to pesticides in their childhood years had increased their risk for the disease by as much as four- to six-fold.

This is the first human study on pesticide exposure and risk of Parkinson's disease.

In 2003, An estimated 331,000 Canadians were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that often impairs motor skills, speech and other functions.

It has been reported to occur at high rates among farmers and in rural populations, leading researchers to investigate the link.


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