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Solvents Increase Risk of Parkinson's

Sep 1, 2000 | Neurology Exposure to common petroleum-based hydrocarbon solvents, such as paints and glues, may result in the development of early-onset Parkinson's disease (PD) symptoms as well as a more severe disease course, say Italian researchers

"Exposure to hydrocarbon-containing solvents was detected in nearly 20% of all patients with PD in our center," according to lead author Dr. G. Pezzoli of the Istituti Clinici di Perfezionamento in Milan, and colleagues. "The percentage increased to 30% in men, a finding to be expected in our industrial area where men predominate among the laborers with occupations at risk."

Researchers found that those exposed to hydrocarbon solvents were an average of three years younger at first sign of disease symptoms and that the severity of disease symptoms was directly related to the amount of hydrocarbon exposure that was experienced.

Researchers identified nine occupations within the study group that accounted for more than 91 percent of the hydrocarbon solvent exposure. The most common occupations of those exposed were petroleum, plastic and rubber workers. Other occupations found to have frequent hydrocarbon exposure were painters, engine mechanics and lithographers.

"These findings raise serious questions about specific occupational risk," said study author Gianni Pezzoli, MD, of the Parkinson Institute in Milan, Italy. "This study more than merits further investigation into job-related Parkinson's risk factors."

Parkinson's disease is a slowly progressive, neurodegenerative disease caused when a small group of brain cells die that control body movement. Symptoms generally include tremor in arms and legs, rigid muscles, slowness of movements and impaired balance. Parkinson's disease currently affects more than 500,000 Americans.

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