Pesticide Exposure May Cause Dementia

More emerging research suggests a link between long-term <"">pesticide exposure and dementia, said Science Daily. The research appears online in the journal, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The authors looked at 614 vineyard workers in South West France whose intellectual capacity was monitored for up to six years as part of the PHYTONER study, which sought to track how pesticides affect the cognitive abilities of those who have worked for about 20 years in the agricultural sector and who are between 40 and 50 years of age, said Science Daily.

Pesticide exposure levels were based on occupational calendars and were broken down as “directly exposed” (mixing or applying pesticides; cleaning or repairing spraying equipment), “certainly indirectly exposed” (contact with treated plants), “possibly indirectly exposed” (work in buildings, offices, cellars), and “not exposed,” wrote Science Daily.

Nearly 1000 workers were enrolled in PHYTONER between 1997 and 1998; 614 were monitored between 2001 and 2003. All participants completed a questionnaire and nine “neurobehavioural” tests that measured memory and recall, language retrieval and verbal skills, and reaction times, explained Science Daily. The tests revealed that participants exposed to pesticides were the likeliest to perform worse, were up to five times likelier to score lower on all test rounds, and were twice as likely to drop two points in a test to determine the presence of dementia, said Science Daily.

That particular finding was considered “particularly striking in view of the short duration of follow up and the relatively young age of the participants,” said the authors, quoted Science Daily. The team noted that prior studies also found a link between pesticide exposure and poor performance for a number of the tests employed in the study.

“The mild impairment we observed raises the question of the potentially higher risks of injury in this population and also of the possible evolution towards neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias,” the team said, quoted Science Daily. “Numerous studies have shown that low cognitive performances are associated with risk of dementia,” the team added.

We have long been following links between pesticides and herbicides and adverse medical effects across various demographics, including between pediatric cancer and common, household pesticides; pesticides and Parkinson’s disease; and pesticides and Alzheimer’s disease risks.

Recently, CNN reported that children exposed to increased levels of specific pesticides known as organophosphates are likelier to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than children who experience less exposure.

Previously, we wrote that the herbicide, Atrazine—a known endocrine disrupter—was linked to sex changes in many male frogs—from male to female—and the “emasculation” of three-quarters of the other frogs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the pesticide under the Bush administration after it rejected earlier findings. Of note, Atrazine’s worldwide ubiquity could likely be linked to a global decline in the frog and amphibian populations, which has confounded scientists and has had significant impacts on world ecology.

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