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Research links pesticides and Parkinson’s disease


March 1, 2011
By Science Daily

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Feb. 23, 2011 – New research shows a link between use of two
pesticides, rotenone and paraquat, and Parkinson's disease. People who
used either pesticide developed Parkinson's disease approximately 2.5
times more often than non-users.

Feb. 22, 2011 – New research shows a link between use of two
pesticides, rotenone and paraquat, and Parkinson's disease. People who
used either pesticide developed Parkinson's disease approximately 2.5
times more often than non-users.

The study was a collaborative effort conducted by researchers at
the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which
is part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Parkinson's
Institute and Clinical Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.

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"Rotenone directly inhibits the function of the mitochondria, the
structure responsible for making energy in the cell," said Freya Kamel,
Ph.D., a researcher in the intramural program at NIEHS and co-author of
the paper appearing online in the journal Environmental Health
Perspectives. "Paraquat increases production of certain oxygen
derivatives that may harm cellular structures. People who used these
pesticides or others with a similar mechanism of action were more
likely to develop Parkinson's disease.

The authors studied 110 people with Parkinson's disease and 358
matched controls from the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME) Study
to investigate the relationship between Parkinson's disease and
exposure to pesticides or other agents that are toxic to nervous
tissue. FAME is a case-control study that is part of the larger
Agricultural Health Study, a study of farming and health in
approximately 90,000 licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses.
The investigators diagnosed Parkinson's disease by agreement of
movement disorder specialists and assessed the lifelong use of
pesticides using detailed interviews.

There are no home garden or residential uses for either paraquat or
rotenone currently registered. Paraquat use has long been restricted to
certified applicators, largely due to concerns based on studies of
animal models of Parkinson's disease. Use of rotenone as a pesticide to
kill invasive fish species is currently the only allowable use of this
pesticide.

"These findings help us to understand the biologic changes
underlying Parkinson's disease. This may have important implications
for the treatment and ultimately the prevention of Parkinson's
disease," said Caroline Tanner, M.D., Ph.D., clinical research director
of the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center, and lead author of
the article.

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The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by
ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by NIH/National Institute
of Environmental Health Sciences, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.