Parkinson's disease is a brain
disorder that is caused by the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Dopamine
is a neurotransmitter that controls for movement and other neurological
functions. As a result, people lose control of their motor functions, leading
to shaking, balance issues, and stiffness. Other symptoms, including vivid
dreams due to an REM sleep disorder, sense of smell, constipation, depression may also be observed.
About 50,000 to 60,000 new cases
of Parkinson's are diagnosed each year, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. It is the 14th leading cause of death in
the U.S. There is no known cure, but there are treatments that might improve
the quality of life.
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Researchers reviewed 104 studies that analyzed
exposure to chemical killers of weeds, fungus, rodents or insects, and risk for
Parkinson's disease. They also looked at how close the subjects were to the
substances, including if they lived in the country where they were used, what
they did for a living and if they drank well water.
The studies showed there was a clear risk
increase with exposure. The eed killer paraquat or the fungicides maneb and
mancozeb were linked to a doubled risk of developing the disorder.
The scientists did not look at the type of
exposure, meaning whether the pesticides were inhaled or absorbed through the
skin. They also could not prove that pesticides directly caused Parkinson's.
"I think the study is
actually a big advance in our research knowledge of the relation between chemical
exposures and the basic neurological injuries," Dr. Arch Carson, associate
professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, told Medpage Today. "This report is the first to show
that there is a positive relationship between not only insecticides and
herbicides but also some other solvent chemicals to which many people are
exposed and the development of Parkinson's syndrome."
Carson, who was not involved in the study,
said there were limitations with the new findings. He pointed out that other
factors, like family history, smoking, exposure to other chemicals and
occupation have also been strongly linked to the disease.
"It's very difficult to put these
(risks) into practice except in terms of preventive health, and reducing or
eliminating exposures to such suspect materials over time," he noted.
Being exposed to bug and weed killers or
solvents may raise your risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
A study published in Neurology on May 23 shows that there was between a 33
to 80 percent increased risk of developing the neurodegenerative disorder that
increased with exposure.
People living in rural areas may be at the
"Due to this association,
there was also a link between farming or country living and developing
Parkinson's in some of the studies," study author Dr. Emanuele Cereda, who
is with the IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy,
said in a press release.