Parkinson’s disease and pesticide exposures – part 2.

The following is brief review of a literature review published in the British Medical Bulletin in 2006 (1). A literature review is a paper that reviews a great number of published studies on a specific topic. This review looked at published articles dealing with the topic of Parkinson’s and pesticide exposure. The review concluded that many studies have shown an association between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease, however; no one pesticide as been consistently identified. The pesticides that have shown a correlation include organochlorine insecticides, maneb and paraquat. (more on these pesticides and where they are used later). One reviewed study showed an almost doubling of risk in individuals exposed to Pesticides! The researcher also notes that it is difficult to single out a specific pesticide because individuals who are exposed are often exposed to several. The current body of evidence indicates that pesticides are associated with Parkinson’s disease, but, as of 2006, more research is needed to improve techniques for estimating specific pesticide exposure.

The next steps in this blog series are to, 1 identify where the previously mentioned pesticides are used, 2 look at studies identifying additional pesticides, and 3 look at studies that have researched specific pesticide effects on animal neurons.

Also – Parkinson’s disease anatomy fact #2 ( the first was the substantia nigra); The basal ganglia is the portion of the brain that contains the substantia nigra. The basal ganglia is interconnected with the cerebral cortext, thalamus, and brainstem. The substantia nigra is Latin for “black substance.”

Substantia nigra also plays a role in addictive behaviors because some drugs, such as cocaine, prevent the reuptake of dopamine, effectively increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. However, the addiction has more to do with the mesolimbic pathway then the substantia nigra, which is part of a different dopamine pathway.

Disclaimer: I am currently in the process of researching this issue – so there is definitely a chance I may post corrections in the future!!!! But am doing my very best to report accurate and concise information.

1. Dick FD, Br Med Bull. 2006;79-80:219-31. Epub 2007 Jan 22.

Pesticides and Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s is a disease characterized by degeneration of dopamine producing neurons in a portion of the brain called the substancia nigra. The reduction in dopamine results in loss of motor control and tremor.

It is known that pesticide and fungicide exposure increases risk of developing the disease. This has been shown in several studies. A study of the small farming community of Fairfield, Montana, revealed that the rate of Parkinson’s in older inhabitants is 1 out of 60, while the national average is about 1 in 272. Further studies have shown a direct relationship. I thought about reviewing several of the studies in this blog, but, to be honest, it would be easy for anyone reading this to google the words “Parkinson’s” and “pesticides” and peruse the results. The point is that we should all think about the contact we have with pesticides. Think about the food you eat, were pesticides used on or around it? Or think about the gardening you may do – what chemicals are you using – what about fungicides – are they used in your home or place of work? What about the house cleaners you use.

I personally have a friend with Parkinson’s and it is a debilitating horrible disease – other neurological disease, such as Alzheimer’s, are equally devastating. It is likely that the neurological damage that characterizes these disease is caused by several factors – but one cause is definitely the environment we live in and are exposure to certain things in the environment – such as pesticides.

I don’t want everyone to be scared, but aware.

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