Exposure to pesticides increases the risk of Parkinson's disease

A new study published in the journal Neurology tried to find out whether there is any association between exposure to pesticides and solvents, and Parkinson’s disease. Although the researchers, led by Dr. Emanuele Cereda from the IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation at Pavia and Gianni Pezzoli from the Parkinson Institute, Milan, Italy, could not prove that pesticides are directly responsible for causing the disease, they found that exposure to pesticides and solvents increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by as much as 58%.
For their study, the researchers did a meta-analysis of 104 cohort or case control studies published between 1975 and 2011. They tried to find out if there is any association between exposure to pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides and solvents like organochlorines, organophosphates, paraquat, maneb or mancozeb and DDT to Parkinson’s disease. They also tried to find out the route of exposure like farming, well water for drinking and living in rural areas associated with increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The researchers found the results of cohort studies and case control studies to be largely indecisive.
However, they found out that exposure to pesticides increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Exposure to certain specific pesticides like Paraquat used for killing some weeds, and Maneb and Mancozeb used for killing fungi, were associated with double the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to people who were not exposed to these pesticides.
It was also seen that people living in rural areas were at a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to people living in urban areas. People who are involved in farming carry a higher risk compared to people who use pesticides to kill weed in their gardens. The researchers have emphasized the need of further studies which would clearly establish how exposure to chemicals can cause neuronal injury leading to the development of Parkinson’s disease. In the meantime, they have urged people indulging in farming to use protective equipment as recommended by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Reference: http://www.neurology.org/content/80/22/2035
Editor: Dr. Bimal Rajalingam MBBS DNB (Resp Med)
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
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