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Home bug spray may increase Parkinson's risk - study

One more reason to go organic:

Home bug spray may increase Parkinson's risk - study
USA: May 8, 2000

WASHINGTON - People exposed to bug sprays in the home and garden may have a
higher risk of Parkinson's disease, an incurable and fatal deterioration of
the brain, researchers said on Friday.  The study, which is sure to cause
controversy, 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.

Lorene Nelson, a neuroepidemiologist at Stanford University School of
Medicine, and colleagues studied 500 people newly diagnosed with the disease
which is characterised by shaking and a freezing of the muscles. They told a
meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in San Diego that 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.

For their study they questioned 496 people who had been diagnosed with
Parkinson's disease. Each patient was asked if they had used or been exposed
to insecticides, herbicides, weed killers or fungicides in the home or
garden. They compared these surveys to those done by 541 people without

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 is caused when brain
cells that produce an important neurotransmitter, or message-carrying
chemical, are destroyed.

"Certain chemicals that an individual is exposed to in the environment may
cause selective death of brain cells or neurons," Nelson said. "If we could
understand why these neurons are being killed in certain circumstances, we
can then try and prevent it." She said much more study was needed before
anyone could draw any conclusions about pesticides and Parkinson's. "No
specific guidelines regarding avoidance of pesticides can be given at this
time but, in general, this is an area of public health importance that needs
to be pursued," she said.


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