News ArchivesRead News

Pesticides exposure associated with Parkinson’s disease

Wednesday December 27, 2006

12/27/06(Harvard School of Public Health) - In the first large-scale, prospective study to examine possible links between chronic, low-dose exposure to pesticides and Parkinson’s disease ( PD ), researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health ( HSPH ) have shown that individuals reporting exposure to pesticides had a 70 percent higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease than those not reporting exposure. No increased risk of Parkinson’s disease was found from reported exposure to other occupational hazards, including asbestos, coal or stone dust, chemicals, acids, or solvents.

The study is published in the Annals of Neurology.

Previous studies had suggested a link between Parkinson’s disease and low-level exposure to pesticides, though the data remains inconclusive. The researchers, led by Alberto Ascherio, at HSPH, looked at data from the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, a prospective study begun in 1992 by the American Cancer Society. Some 143,325 participants who responded to a follow-up survey in 2001 were included in the HSPH study. Researchers then contacted those individuals in the 2001 survey who reported a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease to ask if their medical records could be reviewed to confirm the diagnosis. Ultimately, Ascherio and his colleagues included in their study a total of 413 cases of Parkinson’s disease with onset of symptoms and diagnosis after 1992.

The researchers used exposure data collected in 1982 from the CPS II mortality study, a study from which the Nutrition Cohort was drawn. Exposure to pesticides was reported by 5,203 men ( 8.2 percent ) and 2,661 women ( 3.3 percent ). Among those reporting exposure, after adjusting for age, sex, and other risk factors for Parkinson’s disease, there was a 70 percent higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease than among people who reported no exposure. Those reporting exposure were more likely to be male than female to report their occupation as farmer, rancher or fisherman and to be blue-collar workers, but none of these factors could account for the increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, which was similar in men or women, and in non-farmers as well as farmers. The significant association between pesticide exposure and Parkinson’s disease among individuals who are not farmers is most likely explained by use of pesticides at home or in gardening.

Future studies will need to examine which specific pesticides or classes of pesticides are likely to cause Parkinson’s disease.

Recent News

Nov 22 - A caregiver's story: Living and loving through the slow process of dying
Nov 19 - Testosterone cause of sex differences in the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease, new research suggests
Nov 18 - New strategy reduces side effects in Parkinson's treatment
Nov 14 - Opinion: The never-ending tests of Parkinson's disease
Nov 13 - Parkinson’s disease: A new tool for diagnosis
Nov 10 - Parkinson's Disease Drug May Be Useful For Delaying, Preventing Blindness In Older Population
Nov 9 - Microsoft VP’s diagnosis fuels employees’ heartfelt efforts to help others
Nov 6 - Lewy body dementia: unrecognized and misdiagnosed
Nov 5 - Gait difficulties in Parkinson's linked to new blood vessels in brain
Oct 30 - Special Section: Enabling Technologies for Parkinson’s Disease Management
Oct 27 - Scientists discover a 'switchboard' of molecules that protect against Parkinson's disease
Oct 26 - Dancing improves mobility and quality of life in people with Parkinson's
Oct 23 - The amazing woman who can smell Parkinson’s disease — before symptoms appear
Oct 20 - Personal Essay: The deviousness of dementia
Oct 19 - Mechanism that 'melts' protein clumps may lead to new Parkinson's treatments
Oct 19 - Researchers find that stem cell treatment may reduce cognitive impairment related to dementia with Lewy bodies
Oct 17 - Cancer Drug Helps Parkinson's Patients
Oct 12 - Researchers identify immune gene that can prevent Parkinson's disease and dementia
Oct 12 - Blog Post: An Alert, Well-Hydrated Artist in No Acute Distress
Oct 7 - This month, a brain surgery will be broadcast on live TV for the first time ever