Pesticide exposure associated with incidence of Parkinson's disease

A prospective study of over 143,000 people found that those who reported exposure to pesticides had a 70 percent higher incidence of Parkinson's disease. Exposure to other occupational hazards, including asbestos, chemicals, acids, solvents, and coal or stone dust did not lead to an increased disease risk. The study is published in the July issue of Annals of Neurology, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons. The article is also available online via Wiley Interscience (www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/ana).

While the causes of Parkinson's disease are not fully known, many studies have suggested that factors other than inherited genes play a large role. Data suggests that chronic exposure to pesticides, even in low doses, could be a risk factor. To examine this association, researchers led by Alberto Ascherio, M.D., Dr.PH of the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a prospective study of Parkinson's disease among a large cohort of Americans.

They included male and female participants of the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort who, beginning in 1982, completed extensive lifestyle questionnaires that included questions about occupation and exposure to pesticides and other potentially harmful materials. The researchers focused their study on 143,325 individuals who completed a follow-up survey in 2001, responded to a question about lifetime occurrence of Parkinson's disease, and had no symptoms at baseline.

The researchers requested the medical records of all study participants who reported a new diagnosis of Parkinson's disease after 1992 that is 10 or more years after the reported exposure to pesticides -- to independently confirm the diagnosis. 413 cases were included in this study, and statistical analyses were performed to determine the association between pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease.

The risk of Parkinson's disease was 70 percent higher for people exposed to pesticides. Notably, a similar increase

Contact: Amy Molnar
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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