I grew up in central Illinois and like many Midwest kids, I de-tassled corn every Summer. Now I wonder if the Summer job that paid for my first car, also contributed to my PD or if it was the pot i smoked in the 70's?
Research shows a link between exposure to two pesticides, rotenone and paraquat, and Parkinson's disease. People exposed to either pesticide developed Parkinson’s disease approximately 2.5 times more often than those with no exposure.
Rotenone is sold as an organic pesticide dust for the garden. Unselective in action, it kills potato beetles, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, cabbage worms, raspberry bugs, and asparagus bugs, as well as most other arthropods. Rotenone rapidly bio-degrades under warm conditions so there is minimal harmful residue. A light dusting on the leaves of plants will control insects for several days.
"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 is used as a quaternary ammonium herbicide, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It is quick-acting, non-selective, and kills green plant tissue on contact. It is redistributed within the plant, but does not harm mature bark. Herbicides are used to protect crops by controlling a wide range of annual and certain perennial weeds that would otherwise reduce compete with the crop for water, nutrients, and light.
"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.
During the late 1970s, a controversial program sponsored by the US government sprayed paraquat on marijuana fields in Mexico.Since much of this marijuana was subsequently smoked by Americans, the US government's "Paraquat Pot" program stirred much debate. Perhaps in an attempt to deter people from using marijuana, representatives of the program warned that spraying rendered the crop unsafe to smoke.
Researchers studied people with Parkinson’s disease and matched controls from the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME) Study (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/epi/studies/fame/index.cfm) 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 (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/epi/studies/ahs/index.cfm), a study of farming and health in approximately 90,000 licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses. People who were diagnosed with Parkinson's at age 60 or younger were found to have been at much higher risk because they had been exposed to these agents between 1974 and 1989, years when they would have been children, teens or young adults.
Were you exposed to these agents?