News ArchivesRead News
Parkinson’s research paints a grim picture
Wednesday December 28, 2005
December 27, 2005(StarTribune.com) - Research on Parkinsons disease is converging toward a grim conclusion -- that it is almost always an environmental illness, caused by pesticides and other industrial chemicals.
Worse, it seems in some cases to result from long-term, low-dose exposure to multiple products, each of which may have been used within safety guidelines. This is the nightmare scenario of chemically induced disease.
Scientists have long pointed out that the 80,000 or so industrial chemicals released into the environment have been certified as safe based on short-term, one-at-a-time testing in animal labs. But in real life we acquire multiple toxins, even before birth, and many accumulate in our bodies.
What kind of damage might that do? Parkinsons appears to offer an especially credible example, according to a powerful summary of research recently published in the Los Angeles Times.
This disease, in which the brain gradually loses control over the body, follows damage to a structure called the substantia nigra, whose cells produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Usually it develops gradually, and in people older than 55; only one case in 20 can be explained by physical injury (Muhammad Ali, for example) or genetic abnormality.
Pesticides have long been linked, at least loosely, to neurological damage in people who use them. The specific connection to Parkinsons has been researched since the early 1980s, after a California neurologist saw the disease develop virtually overnight in a 42-year-old heroin addict who, it turned out, had wrecked his substantia nigra by injecting a chemical cousin of the weedkiller paraquat.
Subsequent animal studies have associated similar damage with several specific pesticides, as well as with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
But the most chilling possibilities are raised by findings that pesticides which may be safe individually can be devastating when administered together or in sequence, in ways that mimic routine human exposure -- even at very low doses.
Pesticide companies and government regulators defend the current practice of testing each chemical product in isolation, arguing that its impossible to check out all the possible combinations that arise in the environment. True enough, but the Parkinsons findings suggest that a much more manageable task -- examining the combined impact of pesticides routinely used together -- is long overdue.
Recent NewsJun 13 - Brain Cell Transplants Are Being Tested Once Again For Parkinson's
Jun 12 - Smell Test May Sniff Out Oncoming Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
Jun 8 - Smartphones Track Motor Function in Parkinson's Disease
Jun 8 - GKC Enrolls First Patient in Personal KinetiGraph Trial as Part of NPF’s Parkinson’s Outcomes Project
Jun 8 - Low-fat dairy intake may raise Parkinson's risk
Jun 6 - Patient Voices: Parkinson's Disease
Jun 1 - World-First Trials Have Been Launched to Treat Parkinson's And Blindness With Embryonic Stem Cells
May 24 - Survival Rates Differ Widely in Parkinson's, MSA, Lewy Bodies
May 22 - Discovery may offer hope to Parkinson's disease patients
May 15 - Study offers answers on life expectancy for people with Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia
May 5 - Parkinson's in a dish: Researchers reproduce brain oscillations
May 5 - ‘Hunger Hormone’ Could Help Treat Parkinson’s Disease
May 3 - Antibiotic doxycycline may offer hope for treatment of Parkinson's disease
May 1 - Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson's Disease: Building Physician, Patient Awareness
Apr 28 - Does Parkinson’s disease begin in the gut?
Apr 28 - New empathy-creating digital device could be revolutionary for caregivers
Apr 24 - Treating Depression With Deep Brain Stimulation Works—Most of the Time
Apr 24 - Parkinson’s disease shows links to depression
Apr 21 - TOLEDO Trial: Apomorphine Infusions Reduce 'Off' Time in Parkinson's Disease
Apr 21 - New drug provides long-awaited breakthrough for Parkinson's psychosis