Parkinson's and Pesticides: What are the experts saying?
Dr. Ray Dorsey is a Professor of Neurology and director of the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Rochester.
Dr. Dorsey has also co-authored a best-seller with other Parkinson’s researchers, including the acclaimed Professor Bastiaan Bloem, called Ending Parkinson's Disease: A Prescription for Action.
The book mainly expands on growing speculation that “the rise of Parkinson’s may be largely human-made”.
Pesticides are Problematic
The researchers expand on how the condition is tied to several environmental factors, including certain pesticides, industrial solvents, heavy metals, and air pollution.
The evidence for the link is strongest for certain pesticides, like paraquat as well as industrial solvents like trichloroethylene (TCE).
Air pollution has been less researched but could also be influential, according to the researchers.
The authors of the book then go on to prescribe 25 steps that they believe will help end the condition, of which the banning of paraquat and TCE takes most importance.
The authors explain how pesticides have nerve toxins that seem to target parts of cells that are known to be damaged in Parkinson’s.
Pesticides also easily dissolve in fat cells, which is what the brain is mostly made up of.
Paraquat was introduced after World War 2 as a potent weed-killer, while Trichloroethylene also became prominently used during this period for cleaning metals.
What data supports this hypothesis?
The authors make inferences based on their findings to the prevalence of Parkinson’s globally.
They point out that the most industrialized parts of the world - the U.S. and Western Europe - have the highest rates of the condition.
Sub-Saharan Africa, with some of the lowest industrial growth in the world, also exhibits the lowest rates of Parkinson’s diagnosis.
China, which has undergone rapid industrialisation over just a few decades, is seeing the highest rates of increase in Parkinson’s cases currently.
What made the researchers join forces?
By all accounts, Parkinson's is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world, currently affecting at least 6.5 million people.
When acclaimed Dutch researcher, Professor Bastiaan Bloem recently released a paper called "The Parkinson Pandemic", the global Parkinson's community was shaken by the findings.
The paper detailed how the use of herbicides and industrial solvents, as well as people generally living longer due to better lifestyle choices, Parkinson's will affect 13 million people by 2040 (which is double what it is today). Ultimately, the researchers believe they are preventable as long as action is taken now.
Bloem went on to explain how Parkinson's needs the activism shown by the HIV community in the 1980s, when they were viciously maligned and practically no research was done worldwide.
Activism which brought the condition to the fore of public perception, however, has changed how AIDS sufferers are perceived globally and the level of care they can receive today.
Once considered incurable, HIV is no longer a death sentence.
Through their book, Ending Parkinson's Disease, the authors look to set the tone for Parkinson's activism that will bring the condition into the limelight.
If you would like to find out more about Dr Ray Dorsey’s findings, check out this video.
Source: Ending Parkinson's Disease: A Prescription for Action by Ray Dorsey, Todd Sherer, Bastiaan R. Bloem, Michael S. Okun