(NaturalNews) Scientists have now discovered additional evidence of a connection between Parkinson's disease and long-term exposure to pesticides. Parkinson's disease strikes movements like walking, talking and writing. Symptoms of the disease first tend to appear in patients over 50. These symptoms may include tremors and muscle rigidity.
Approximately 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease every year. More than half a million Americans may be affected at any one time but this number is difficult to pinpoint accurately due to the high number of people who have the disease but have not yet had a formal diagnosis.
The disease is chronic and progressive with patients' symptoms growing steadily worse over time.
A study of over 300 people with Parkinson's found that sufferers were more than two times as likely to have had heavy exposure to pesticides over their lifetime as other members of their family without the disease.
The new research observed the lifetime pesticide exposure of over 300 Parkinson's patients. Over 200 of their healthy relatives were also included in the study as a control group. The results showed that patients with Parkinson's were 1.6 times more likely to report an exposure to pesticides in their lifetimes compared with the control group.
Additionally, people with Parkinson's were 2.4 times more likely than healthy people to report heavy exposure to pesticides. Heavy exposure is defined as more than 215 days over a lifetime.
Other prior studies have also pointed to a possible link between pesticide exposure and the disease
and now public authorities are trying to decide whether these risks should be determined significant.
A change in several genes has been identified as a precursor to the disease, however these variations are somewhat unusual and they only account for a small number of the incidence of the disease. The majority of cases are believed to be the result of a reaction between genes and the environment.
Pesticides may be contributing to nerve cell death in some people who have Parkinson's
. It is unlikely to be the only cause of the disease, however.
The strongest correlations were for people with Parkinson's who had been exposed to herbicides and insecticides such as organochlorides and organophosphates. There were no connections between Parkinson's disease
and drinking well-water or living or working on a farm (two often used proxies for pesticide exposures). The participants in the study tended to be people who used a lot of pesticides in their homes and in their hobbies.
As the evidence grows, the researchers are watching for enough biological evidence to conclude that Parkinson's is linked to pesticide
exposure. The biological mechanism linking pesticides and Parkinson's is still not known. Future genetic studies of Parkinson's may consider the influence of pesticides because exposure to these chemicals might be what triggers the disease in people who are genetically predisposed.
This study supports the connection between pesticides and Parkinson's and strengthens the fact that pesticides play a key role.
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