Pesticides exposure, head injury combo increase risk of Parkinson’s disease

Exposure to high levels of pesticides among people who’ve experienced a serious head injury face a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than most others.

According to a report from the Canadian Web site, suffering a head injury and being exposed to the industrial weed killer paraquat tripled a person’s chances of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life. Either one of those factors without the other, researchers found, also increased a person’s risk of developing this life-altering disease that affects millions in the U.S. and even more worldwide.

The new study appears in the most recent edition of the journal Neurology. Researchers for the study examined the records of a thousand people living in California near areas where paraquat is spread frequently, namely the central part of the state that is home to heavy industrial agricultural activity. Among those thousand people, 400 had been diagnosed with some level of Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers then examined exposure levels to paraquat using geographic data for all the study participants and determined how many had suffered a severe head trauma at some point in their life. The study defines a severe head trauma as some impact that caused a person to lose consciousness for at least five minutes.

Among those who had suffered a head injury, they were twice as likely to have developed Parkinson’s disease versus those who hadn’t been injured in that manner. Exposure to high levels of paraquat caused people to be 36 percent more likely to have Parkinson’s disease. When a person had suffered both a head injury and exposure to paraquat, they were three-times as likely to have Parkinson’s disease later in life.

This study adds to evidence and analysis examining the factors or other causes of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease affects so many Americans and most people living here know someone who is or was affected by the disease. Loss of memory and motor skills are initial signs that the disease is taking hold or a person and the medical world continues to find ways to potentially prevent or treat the disease, as well as identify the risk factors for the disease.

The research for this study examined two perceived risk factors for Parkinson’s disease and theorized what a combination of those risk factors had on the likelihood of developing the disease. The results of this study have been backed by previous reports completed by Mayo Clinic researchers in 2006 who found that men working in areas where industrial pesticides and herbicides were used were more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

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