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Pesticides Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

Pesticides Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

Watching a loved one endure the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is not an easy matter–it’s been heartbreaking for me, at least. But perhaps even more frustrating are the findings of a new study linking pesticides with the disease. According to a study published in the September issue of the Archives of Neurology, people whose jobs bring them in regular contact with pesticides may be at increased risk for Parkinson’s disease.

I am neither an entomologist nor a medical researcher–but doesn’t it just seem that hardcore chemicals created to kill weeds and insects can’t be that good for us? Yes, we are bigger than weeds and insects, but many people are exposed to these chemicals over extended periods of time–often without a choice. Neurotoxic chemicals are neurotoxic chemicals, whether they be intended for leafhoppers or not.

According to the study, “growing evidence suggests a causal association between pesticide use and parkinsonism. However, the term ‘pesticide’ is broad and includes chemicals with varied mechanisms,” wrote Dr. Caroline M. Tanner of the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, Calif., and colleagues. “Because few investigations have identified specific pesticides, we studied eight pesticides with high neurotoxic plausibility based on laboratory findings. Use of these pesticides was associated with higher risk of parkinsonism, more than double that in those not exposed.”

Three compounds–an organic (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), an herbicide (paraquat), and an insecticide (permethrin)–were associated with a more than threefold increased risk of Parkinson’s, the study found. Laboratory tests have shown that all three compounds have effects on dopaminergic neurons, which are affected by Parkinson’s disease.

“This convergence of epidemiologic and laboratory data from experimental models of Parkinson’s disease lends credence to a causative role of certain pesticides in the neurodegenerative process,” Tanner and colleagues concluded. “Other pesticide exposures, such as hobby gardening, residential exposure, wearing treated garments or dietary intake, were not assessed. Because these exposures may affect more subjects, future attention is warranted.”

As heartbreaking as it is to realize that many of these Parkinson’s cases might have been avoided, it is nonetheless heartening to find an environmental cause–if we can simply remove something from the environment, we can lower the rate of Parkinson’s. Now the questions is: can we simply remove the offending chemicals from the environment?

Here’s how can you help: Urge President Obama to ask the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate a link between occupational pesticide use and American workers–and develop new policies to protect workers accordingly by signing our letter here.

Read more: General Health, Health, Natural Pest Control, Non-Toxic Cleaning, ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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9:10PM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Very good information. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

10:45AM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's a while back. It has had a very debilitating affect on his life. He I think may have had it long before he was diagnosed, he seemed to lose his balance a lot and hurt himself a few times, thus has pins in his legs to secure the bones. Since he has it, I have been taking Macuna, an herb that is great for the nervous system. I am told by the lady at the herb store that a gentleman comes in regularly for his Macuna, he has Parkinsons. It has nerve relaxing capabilities, that's why I use it.

5:29AM PDT on Jun 24, 2010

Thanks Melissa.

12:29AM PDT on Jun 17, 2010

I am a 55 year old Parkinson’s patient x8 yrs diagnosed. I have a long history of anemia, starting when I was about 4 or 5 years old. My former doctor in the town where I used to live would give me B-12 shots because my B-12 was low and she said it was good for neurological function.

Parkinsons disease

9:54PM PDT on Jun 1, 2010

Thanks for the information, Melissa.

11:44AM PST on Feb 24, 2010


1:48PM PST on Feb 15, 2010

I plan to research pest control alternatives for my gardening efforts.

8:26AM PST on Feb 4, 2010

Chemicals are also a huge problem in the florist industry...Both Mother and daughter died of cancer flower shop here in town.

8:24AM PST on Feb 4, 2010

Both my grandparents on my mother's side were farmers and were talked into using pesticides in the 40's they both died of cancer.

11:20PM PST on Dec 28, 2009

My grandmother was a gardener who died of Parkinson's. I hate thinking that all those happy hours she spent in her garden may have contributed to her death.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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