Pesticides: A Link to Parkinson's?
Researchers Say Pesticide Exposure and Head Trauma Are Factors in Parkinson's Disease
WebMD News Archive
Identifying Specific Pesticides
The European study is not the first to link pesticide use to an increased
risk for Parkinson's disease, or to suggest that risk increases as exposures
Earlier this year, researchers from the National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences (NIEHS) also reported that lifetime exposure to pesticides was
associated with an increased risk for the disease.
Freya Kamel, PhD, who led that study team, is conducting related research
designed to identify the specific pesticides associated with risk.
She tells WebMD that she expects to publish findings from the study within a
year or two.
"We have some ideas about which pesticides or pesticide classes are
involved, but this will be a more detailed look at the issue," she
Boxing and Parkinson's
Muhammad Ali is at once the world's most famous living boxing legend and the
world's most famous Parkinson's patient. His two-decade struggle with the
disease has focused the spotlight on head trauma as a potential cause of the
While the European study suggests a link, it cannot show a causal
association because it was not clear if the Parkinson's patients in the study
suffered head trauma before or after their disease was diagnosed.
If confirmed, the finding would have major implications for all contact
sports, particularly boxing, Dick and colleagues wrote.
National Parkinson Foundation medical director Michael S. Okun, MD, tells
WebMD that the European study adds to the growing body of evidence linking
specific environmental triggers to Parkinson's disease.
But he adds that these triggers probably tell only part of the story.
"It would be a mistake to assume that this is a disease linked directly
to pesticides or linked directly to genes and to close the door on potential
interactions between them," he notes in a written statement. "While the
causes of Parkinson's aren't known, it is likely influenced by a combination of
factors, such as a genetic predisposition for the disease, coupled with