Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pesticide and Parkinson's Link

People who reported being exposed to pesticides before 1982 had a 70% higher incidence of Parkinson's disease 10 to 20 years later than those who weren't exposed, a study by Harvard scientists finds.
Of 143,325 people who took part in an American Cancer Society study in 1982, 7,864 reported pesticide exposure and 413 were later diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Researchers found that those who reported exposure, after adjusting for age, sex, and other risk factors for Parkinson's disease, had a significantly higher rate of contracting the disease.
The main limitation, says Alberto Ascherio, a Harvard professor of nutrition and epidemiology who led the study, is that "we really don't know which chemicals people used and how strong the exposure was."
The risk was similar in farmers and non-farmers, which would mean people also were exposed to pesticides in their homes and gardens, Ascherio says.
Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive degenerative brain disorder. It causes shaking, rigidity and slowness of movement. There is no cure, although some treatments are available.
An estimated 1.5 million Americans have Parkinson's. The condition usually develops after the age of 65 but 15% of patients are diagnosed under age 50.
Actor Michael J. Fox, whose foundation financed the study, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991.
Ascherio says it's possible that genetic variation will explain why some people can metabolize and excrete pesticides easily and others cannot. But he says more research is necessary.
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Date: June 26, 2006
© Copyright 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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