Thursday, May 16, 2024

What Pesticides Are Linked To Parkinson’s Disease

Benomyl Blocks Brain Cell Processes

Is Parkinson’s disease related to pesticide use? | DW Documentary

Meanwhile, researchers from UCLAs David Geffen School of Medicine found that the fungicide Benomyl will block multiple cell processes. One of these blocks the production of aldehyde dehydrogenase .

ALDH increases the dopamine metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde, which produces degeneration among neurons associated with the production of dopamine. One of the central dopamine-producing centers exists in the brain the substantia nigra located within the midbrain.

When the nerve cells located in this region die off or become otherwise deranged, they stop producing dopamine and other neurotransmitters that help control coordination and movement throughout the body. A lack of these neurotransmitters will produce the shakiness and eventual loss of coordination characteristic amongst progressed Parkinsons patients.

Campaigning Against A Growing Risk Of Parkinsons

Responding to worlds fastest growing neurological disorder in 2020, notable Parkinsons disease experts, including Dr Ray Dorsey and Dr Bastiaan Bloem, collaborated to produce the book Ending Parkinsons Disease: A Prescription for Action which called for a ban of certain chemicals associated with the condition.

Many pesticides are nerve toxins, said co-author Dr Dorsey in an interview with Parkinsons Life last year, targeting the parts of cells that are known to be damaged in Parkinsons. When you give some of these pesticides to mice and rats, they get Parkinsons.

As part of their ongoing efforts to drive change for the Parkinsons community, the group started the Red Card campaign to pressure US politicians to turn the tide of Parkinsons encouraging people to send a widely circulated letter to the US president. Thousands of letters were sent over the course of the campaign.

Following the news of the chlorpyrifos ban this month, the team wrote: We did it! We rallied together and sent over 30,000 Red Cards to the White House.

Should You Be Worried About The Link Between Pesticides And Parkinsons Disease

In recent years, research has accelerated into Parkinsons disease. Researchers are studying the disease around the clock in order to understand the causes, and solutions, to the disease. While there are still dozens of different avenues to look into, some research has illuminated a potential link between common household pesticides and Parkinsons Disease.

Its been found that exposing certain neurotransmitters to pesticides greatly reduces their energy level and output, which could translate into the development of Parkinsons Disease. The link between pesticides and Parkinsons Disease is still being studied and reviewed thoroughly, so new evidence is still coming out every day. Heres a brief guide to the findings so far.

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Early Life Exposures To Pesticides

Animal studies have found evidence that male mice exposed to maneb in utero are at increased risk of developing neurodegeneration if subsequently exposed, as adults, to paraquat. These laboratory findings have led to the speculation that pesticide-exposed children may be at increased risk of PD in later life, although evidence for this association is lacking. Equally, it can be hypothesized that in old age, a pesticide exposure might tip the balance in an individual with pre-existing dopaminergic cell depletion, thus leading to PD. At present, too little is known about the timing of pesticide exposures and the role this may play in the development of PD. A large prospective cohort study of children and their exposure to environmental pesticides is required to study the role of early life pesticide exposures.

What Were The Results Of The Study

Study uncovers cause of pesticide exposure, Parkinson

In total 91% of cases and controls could be included in the main analysis. The majority of cases were white males and the majority had Parkinsons disease . Having ever smoked was associated with a reduced risk of parkinsonism, while having ever drunk coffee was also associated with a reduced risk of parkinsonism, although this reduction did not quite reach significant levels.

The researchers found that working in agriculture, education, healthcare or welding was not associated with increased risk of parkinsonism. Working in legal, construction and extraction, or religious occupations was associated with an increased risk of parkinsonism. Personal care and service workers, food preparation workers and military tactical weapons specialists were at a reduced risk of parkinsonism. However, these associations did not remain significant after adjusting for length of time in the profession.

There was no association between use of solvents, painting, soldering, machining, using glue or adhesives, woodworking and stripping wood or paint and risk of parkinsonism.

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Pesticides Deplete Neurons Of Energy

It was found that the neurons that had been exposed to the chemicals had faulty mitochondria.

Mitochondria, also known as the powerhouses of the cell, are the organelles inside a cell that turn sugar, fats, and proteins into the energy our body needs to survive and function.

But this study demonstrated that the mitochondria inside the dopamine neurons affected by pesticides could not move freely as they normally would. This sucked the energy out of the neurons.

Importantly, the levels of chemicals used to impair these neurons were below the ones deemed lowest observed adverse effect level by the United States Environmental Protection Agency .

Prof. Ryan says that this means we should re-evaluate EPAs guidelines for these two pesticides.

This study shows that everyone is not equal, and these safety standards need to be updated in order to protect those who are more susceptible and may not even know it, he adds.

People with a predisposition for Parkinsons disease are more affected by these low-level exposures to agrochemicals and therefore more likely to develop the disease.

Prof. Scott Ryan

This is one of the reasons, he concludes, why some people living near agricultural areas are at a higher risk.

One Of The First Studies To Look At Human Cells

The researchers used stem cells from patients with Parkinsons disease who had a mutation in the gene responsible for encoding the -synuclein protein.

At least 30 alterations in this gene have been associated with Parkinsons, and -synuclein protein clumps are a well-documented, albeit poorly understood, hallmark of the disease.

For the new research, the scientists also worked with normal embryonic cells that they modified using genetic editing to replicate the -synuclein genetic mutation.

Prof. Ryan explains why using human cells makes this study particularly valuable. Until now, he says, the link between pesticides and Parkinsons disease was based primarily on animal studies as well as epidemiological research that demonstrated an increased risk among farmers and others exposed to agricultural chemicals.

We are one of the first to investigate what is happening inside human cells, explains Prof. Ryan.

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that go on to individualize into specific types of cells. Prof. Ryan and his colleagues used the two types of stem cells to derive dopamine-producing nerve cells from them.

Then, they exposed these dopaminergic neurons which are known to be affected the most by Parkinsons disease to the two pesticides.

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The Rise Of Parkinson’s Disease

Neurological disorders are the worlds leading cause of disability. And the fastest growing of these conditions is not Alzheimers but Parkinsons disease.

  • The number of people with Parkinsons disease more than doubled from 1990 to 2015 and could double again by 2040. An aging population alone does not account for this rise.
  • Air pollution, metal production, certain industrial chemicals, and some synthetic pesticides are linked to Parkinsons. Yet we are doing little to manage known risk factors.
  • The authors contend that the United States should ban trichloroethylene, paraquat, and other chemicals linked to Parkinsons, which many other countries have already done.

From 1990 to 2015, the number of people living with Parkinsons more than doubled from 2.6 million to 6.3 million, according to a 2015 study in Lancet Neurology. By 2040, the number is projected to double again to at least 12.9 million, a stunning rise .

The number of people with Parkinsons disease more than doubled between 1990 and 2015 and is projected to double again by 2040.

Figure adapted from E. R. Dorsey and B. R. Bloem, 2018.

Figure adapted from R. Dorsey et al., 2020.

The number of people who succumb to Parkinsons each year has been increasing steadily.

Data from: U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data.

Christophe Vander Eecken / Reporters / Science Source

What Is Parkinsons Disease

Parkinson’s and Pesticides with Ray Dorsey

Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disorder in which nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra dont produce enough of the neurotransmitter dopamine, according to the Parkinsons Foundation. Not having enough dopamine is what causes the movement symptoms that distinguish Parkinsons disease, including tremors, limb rigidity, and gait problems.

Although it is a movement disorder, Parkinsons disease can bring about non-movement symptoms that include cognitive impairment, depression, sleep disorders, and constipation, according to the Parkinsons Foundation.

Parkinsons disease is a progressive disorder. This means the disease gets worse over time. Although Parkinsons disease is incurable, its symptoms are treatable. Data from some clinical research trials suggest that there is hope to slow Parkinsons disease progression through early intervention, although theres not enough data to conclusively demonstrate that this is possible, according to The American Journal of Managed Care.

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What Should People With Parkinsons Know About Paraquat

Paraquat is an herbicide that has been linked to Parkinsons. It is a widely used commercial herbicide in the U.S. that is banned in 32 countries, including the European Union and China. In fact, paraquat along with another pesticide, rotenone, is routinely used in research as one of the ways to induce and study parkinsonism in animal models of PD.

The Parkinsons Foundation, along with the Unified Parkinsons Advocacy Council, signed two letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency encouraging them to cancel the registration of paraquat based on strong scientific research linking the herbicide to Parkinsons disease.

In October 2020, the EPA re-approved paraquat for use in the U.S. Without additional action, paraquat will remain legal for sale and use in the U.S. for the next 15 years.

Does Exposure To Pesticides Herbicides Or Other Pollutants Increase The Risk Of Developing Parkinson Disease

A meta-analysis of 89 studies, including 6 prospective and 83 case-control studies, found that exposure to pesticides may increase the risk for PD by as much as 80%. Exposure to the weed killer paraquat or to the fungicides maneb or mancozeb is particularly toxic, increasing the risk for PD about 2-fold. Many of the agents studied are no longer used in the United States and Europe however, some are still found in developing parts of the world.

In case-control studies, PD was associated with exposure to any type of pesticide, herbicide, insecticide, and solvent, with risks ranging from 33% to 80%. Increased PD risk was also associated with proxy conditions of exposure to organic pollutants, such as farming, well-water drinking, and rural living. In addition, risk seemed to increase with length of exposure.

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The Link Between Parkinsons Disease And Toxic Chemicals

A new book calls the increasing prominence of Parkinsons a man-made pandemic.

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Michael Richard Clifford, a 66-year-old retired astronaut living in Cary, N.C., learned before his third spaceflight that he had Parkinsons disease. He was only 44 and in excellent health at the time, and had no family history of this disabling neurological disorder.

What he did have was years of exposure to numerous toxic chemicals, several of which have since been shown in animal studies to cause the kind of brain damage and symptoms that afflict people with Parkinsons.

As a youngster, Mr. Clifford said, he worked in a gas station using degreasers to clean car engines. He also worked on a farm where he used pesticides and in fields where DDT was sprayed. Then, as an aviator, he cleaned engines readying them for test flights. But at none of these jobs was he protected from exposure to hazardous chemicals that are readily inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Now Mr. Clifford, a lifelong nonsmoker, believes that his close contact with these various substances explains why he developed Parkinsons disease at such a young age. Several of the chemicals have strong links to Parkinsons, and a growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to them may very well account for the dramatic rise in the diagnosis of Parkinsons in recent decades.

Sometimes, though, the links are so strong and the evidence so compelling that there can be little doubt that one causes the other.

When To Seek Medical Treatment


If you are exhibiting some of the symptoms mentioned above, you need to schedule an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. To diagnose the disease, your physician will ask you about your medical history, your familys medical history, current symptoms, and if you have possibly been exposed to toxins. Your doctor will look for signs of muscle rigidity and tremors, observe you as you walk, check your coordination and posture, and monitor your movements for signs of slowness.

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Update From Our Cso: Pesticides Paraquat And Parkinsons

We are 100+ years since the publication of James Parkinsons essay the Shaking Palsy describing his eponymous disease. Yet, aside from a small number of individuals who have clear genetic causes to their disease, we still do not know the reason why the majority of people develop Parkinsons disease .

Based upon current research, scientists believe that Parkinsons is most likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The interactions between genes and the environment can be quite complex. Some environmental exposures may lower the risk of PD, while others may increase it. Learn more in our article, Pesticides and Parkinsons: Time to Strengthen Epidemiology.

Specifically, as researchers, we need to better understand the predisposition to develop Parkinsons based on a persons genetics and environmental factors. One thing science has shown is that the exposure of certain chemicals in pesticides can lead to people having an increased risk developing Parkinsons. However, it is important to note, that even when a pesticide is linked to Parkinsons, not every person exposed to certain chemicals in pesticides will go on to develop this life-changing disease.

What Should I Know About Paraquat Legal Cases

Currently, there are more than 300 lawsuits filed against Paraquat across the U.S. Due to the multitude of cases, a multidistrict litigation was passed to help accelerate the legal proceedings.

Talk to a lawyer specifically a product liability attorney if you are considering filing a lawsuit. For help locating an attorney contact your local Area Agency on Aging. The Parkinsons Foundation is not directly involved with Paraquat lawsuits.

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The Danger Of Paraquat Today

The United States banned DDT, Agent Orange, and heptachlor in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the United States has not banned all pesticides linked to Parkinsons. The one with perhaps the strongest link to the disease is still in widespread use: paraquat.

The United States has not banned all pesticides linked to Parkinsons. The one with perhaps the strongest link to the disease is still in widespread use: paraquat.

Paraquat has been used as a pesticide since the 1950s and is marketed as an alternative to the worlds most popular weed killer, glyphosate, more commonly known as Roundup. Paraquat takes care of weeds that not even Roundup can kill. Today, it is used on farm fields across the United States, and its use continues to increase. The pesticides primary uses are for corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and grapes.

Portraits of several Parkinsons patients show the many faces of people with the diagnosis. It affects people from all walks of life.

Robert Dein

In the laboratory, paraquat reproduces the features of Parkinsons disease. In a 1999 study in Brain Research, A. I. Brooks of the University of Rochester and colleagues gave paraquat to mice, and their activity decreased. Paraquat also killed dopamine-producing nerve cells in the rodents substantia nigras. The greater the amount of paraquat administered, the greater the number of nerve cells lost.

Table adapted from:

Figure adapted from R. Dorsey et al., 2020.

New Study Links Parkinson’s And Pesticides

Pesticides Cause Parkinsons Disease

Simply put, the greater your pesticide exposure, the greater your risk is for Parkinsons disease.

Over the past decade, a number of studies have suggested that pesticide exposure may double a person’s risk of developing . Now, for the first time, a family study has been published that reinforces that link.

In the March 28 edition of the journal BMC Neurology, researchers from Duke University Medical Center and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine reported that people with Parkinson’s disease were 61 percent more likely to report direct contact with pesticidesparticularly insecticides and herbicidesthan their unaffected relatives.

The researchers interviewed 319 people with Parkinson’s and more than 200 relatives. Then, they combined data about the frequency of pesticide exposure and the duration to get a rate of cumulative exposure.

“We found a dosage effect,” says Dana Hancock, Ph.D., currently a research fellow with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Dr. Hancock co-authored the study when she was a graduate student at Duke University. “Increasing levels of exposure to pesticides were associated with an increasing risk of Parkinson’s,” she notes. People who were exposed through direct pesticide application on more than 10 days a year were 2.07 times more likely to have Parkinson’s disease than those who were never exposed.

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Environmental Factors In Parkinsons Disease

Most scientists agree that Parkinsons disease is caused by environmental factors and genetics. The interaction between the environment and genes can be very complex. Some types of environmental exposures can lower the risk of developing Parkinsons disease, while others can increase it.

Furthermore, a person may have a genetic makeup that makes them more vulnerable to the effects of harmful substances, such as pesticides. Scientists believe that the combination of these factors can trigger biological changes that lead to the development of PD.

The environmental risk factors that can result in the development of Parkinsons disease include:

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