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Study Links Pesticides to Parkinson’s Disease
(Beyond Pesticides, May 31, 2005)
New study results from the University of Aberdeen, England Geoparkinson Project, reported in New Scientist Magazine (May 26, 2005 issue 2501), link pesticide exposure to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The study followed the behaviors of nearly 3000 European volunteers with and without Parkinson’s disease from Scotland, Italy, Sweden, Romania and Malta from 2000 to 2005. The project, funded by the European Union, aimed to study the genetic, environmental and occupational risk factors for Parkinson's disease. The research project finds that overall the volunteers with Parkinson’s had more exposures to pesticides throughout their lives compared to volunteers without Parkinson’s. Low level pesticide users were 9% more likely to have Parkinson’s, whereas high level users, like farmers, were 43% more likely. People with Parkinson’s in their family face a 350 percent increase in risk.

Parkinson’s disease causes nerve cells to stop producing the correct levels of the neurological chemicals, dopamine and acetylcholine. The imbalance of these chemicals leads to problems in motor function, which results in tremors, tics, stiffness in muscles and joints, and/or difficulty moving. Other symptoms include depression, anxiety, dementia, constipation, urinary difficulties, and problems sleeping. Drug therapy exists to help patients cope, but currently there is no cure for this degenerative disease. This study concludes that genetics and having been knocked unconscious contribute to an increased risk of getting Parkinson’s disease. Mounting scientific evidence from this and other studies also suggests that environmental factors, specifically pesticide exposure, is a significant risk factor that contributes to this disease.

This study could not determine what specific pesticides were linked to Parkinsons’s since participants were not able to identify what they had used. However, other studies show that the pesticides permethrin , maneb, rotenone, and paraquat increase risk of developing Parkinson’s. Read more about the evidence for pesticide’s link to Parkinson’s in Beyond Pesticides Daily News archives.

TAKE ACTION: Write the U.S.EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and let the agency know that they have a duty to alert the public to the scientific findings (laboratory and epidemiologic) that link pesticides with Parkinson's disease. In addition, urge EPA officials to initiate an urgent and expedited review of pesticides' link to Parkinson's.