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Parkinson's disease / movement disorders

Causes [strength of evidence]:

Parkinsonism symptoms include tremor, rigidity, gait disturbances, bradykinesia, and impairment of postural reflexes. Pesticide exposures as defined by occupational exposure (vineyard worker, agricultural worker, farmer, animal breeder, pesticide applicator) or inferred by rural residences or well water as source of drinking water has been associated with PD. Several population based case-control studies have identified a 3-4 fold increased likelihood of PD with past herbicide or insecticide exposure. Paraquat has a structure similar to MPTP. A possible role of gene-pesticide interactions in the etiology of PD has been postulated with reports of associations between glutathione transferase polymorphisms, NAT-2 slow acetylators, and slow 4-hydroxylation of debrisoquine (CYP 2D6 29B+) and PD. These genetic variants may increase risk from environmental exposure by slowing detoxification of exogenous compounds.

  • Baldi I. et al. Neurodegenerative Diseases and Exposure to Pesticides in the Elderly. Am J Epidemiol 2003; 157(5): 409-414.
  • Carpenter D.O. et al. Understanding the Human Health Effects of Chemical Mixtures. Environ Health Perspect 2002;110(suppl 1)25-42.
  • Coon, S et al. Whole-body lifetime occupational lead exposure and risk of Parkinson's disease. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Dec;114(12):1872-6.
  • Murch, SJ et al. A mechanism for slow release of biomagnified cyanobacterial neurotoxins and neurodegenerative disease in Guam. Proc Natl Acad Sci 2004; 101(33): 12228-31. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/101/33/12228
  • Sanborn, MS. et al. Systematic Review of Pesticide Human Health Effects. Ontario College of Family Physicians. April, 2004. Available at: http://www.ocfp.on.ca/English/OCFP/Communications/Publications/default.asp?s=1
  • Solomon G. et al. Pesticides and Human Health: A Resource for Health Professionals. A peer-reviewed report by Physicians for Social Responsibility (LA and Greater Bay Area chapters) and Californians for Pesticide Reform. 2000. Available on-line at: http:
  • Vanacore, N. et al. A possible association between exposure to n-hexane and parkinsonism. Neurol Sci2000; 21(1):49-52.

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