Parkinson’s Institute: Environmental Factors May Raise Parkinson’s Risk

Pesticides and other toxic environmental agents can be dangerous risk factors in the development of Parkinson’s disease, according to the latest research by the Parkinson’s Institute. Surprisingly, however, the group also noted that nicotine may actually help fight Parkinson’s disease.

The Collaborative Centers for Parkinson’s Disease Environmental Research (CCPDER) is a joint study effort sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and includes scientists from Emory University, UCLA, and the Parkinson’s Institute, which has coordinated the study.

Among the significant findings: Both epidemiological statistics and laboratory evidence have determined that pesticides such as Paraquat and Dieldrin are potential risk factors for Parkinson’s disease. In addition, they found that toxic environmental agents work to damage neurons by causing the accumulation of harmful proteins. On the positive side, the research found that anti-inflammatory drugs might be beneficial to patients, as is nicotine, which they say may act as a “neuroprotective agent.”

Dr. Donato A. Di Monte, director of basic research at the Parkinson’s Institute, said, “The findings … will help us better understand the disease process, intervene earlier with neuroprotective treatment, and work on preventive measures against Parkinson’s disease risk factors.”

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