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Pesticides May Increase Parkinson's Risk

May 1, 2000 | American Academy of Neurology People exposed to bug sprays in the home may have a higher risk of Parkinson's disease, an incurable neurological disorder. The study is the first to show that exposure to pesticides in the home may lead to Parkinson's, although other studies have suggested that exposure to the chemicals at work is a risk.

The researchers studied 500 people newly diagnosed with the disease, which is characterized by tremor and problems with walking and balance. People who had been exposed to pesticides were twice as likely to develop Parkinson's disease as people not exposed to pesticides. This study is the largest yet of newly diagnosed individuals with Parkinson's disease and it is the first study to show a significant association between home pesticide use and the risk of developing Parkinson's disease," Nelson said in a statement.

Parkinson's patients were more than two times as likely to have been exposed to insecticides in the home. People exposed to herbicides also had a higher risk, but exposure to insecticides in the garden and to fungicides did not seem to be associated with the disease. Parkinson's occurs when brain cells that produce dopamine, an important neurotransmitter (message-carrying chemical), are destroyed in a part of the brain known as the substantia nigra.

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