Is there a link between the use of occupational pesticides and Parkinson’s disease? That’s what we’d like to know.
People with Parkinson’s disease have been found to have significantly higher blood levels of a particular pesticide than healthy people or those with Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
A study recently published in the Archives of Neurology found a link between use of pesticides in a person’s occupation, such as farming and other agricultural work, and development of Parkinson’s disease. Three chemical compounds were found to be associated with a three-fold increase in risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers said, “Occupational use of pesticides was associated with an almost 80 percent greater risk of parkinsonism. Growing evidence suggests a causal association between pesticide use and parkinsonism.”
In a press release, Dr. Dwight German, senior author of the paper, said “There’s been a link between pesticide use and Parkinson’s disease for a long time, but never a specific pesticide. This is particularly important because the disease is not diagnosed until after significant nerve damage has occurred. A test for this risk factor might allow for early detection and protective treatment.”
Pesticides are widely used across the agricultural sector, putting agricultural workers at increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. This cannot be ignored! More research is needed and we must act now to protect our agricultural workforce.
Please urge President Obama to ask the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate a link between occupational pesticide use and American workers, and to develop new policies to protect workers accordingly.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system manifesting primarily by tremor, trembling, rigidity, stiffness, slowness of movement, postural instability, and impaired balance and coordination.
Early symptoms can be subtle, gradually increasing over time. As the disease progresses, people with Parkinson’s may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing simple tasks, taking a physical and emotional toll on the patient and the family. Although it also occurs in younger people, it is usually diagnosed in people over age 50, with an increased frequency in people over age 60.
There are approximately 1.5 million people in the United States with Parkinson’s disease. There is no one specific test for Parkinson’s disease; diagnosis generally comes after a series of tests, elimination of other conditions, clinical history, and neurological examination. Although there are treatment options, there is no cure.
That’s why we need to urge President Obama to ask the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate a link between occupational pesticide use and American workers.
Care2 Action Items
Read the full press release from UT Southwestern Medical Center
For more information on Parkinson’s Disease, visit The American Parkinson’s Disease Association
Photo: IRRI images via creative commons
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