Pesticides Could Make Men, Not Women, More Prone to Parkinson’s Disease

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A new study seems to have proven that something you use on your lawn and garden could be a source of Parkinson’s disease. More specifically, men could be at risk from these suspect products — not women. I’m talking about pesticides — the stuff you put on your grass or plants, or around your house, to kill off unwanted bugs.

 As you may or may not know, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive “neurodegenerative” disease, which means that nerve cells in a certain area of the brain start to die off or are damaged. These brain cells produce “dopamine,” a chemical that helps regulate movement in the body.

 Symptoms of this condition include tremors, involuntary muscle contractions, slow movement, stiffness, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and speech impairment.

 The role of pesticides in Parkinson’s has been debated for some time now. To test this link further, researchers from the Mayo Clinic looked at people who had developed Parkinson’s between 1976 and 1995, and who lived in Olmsted County, Minnesota. For each study participant with Parkinson’s, the researchers looked at a subject of the same gender and age without the disease, and who lived in the same county, thus making the total of study subjects 404.

 The study participants were interviewed — sometimes through a third party, in the case of some of the Parkinson’s patients — to see if they had been exposed to chemicals, whether through their job or some kind of leisure activity. To rule out other suspects, the researchers asked about asbestos, cleaning products, gas- and petroleum-based substances, glue, paint, varnishes and stains, and printing- related chemicals, in addition to insecticides and herbicides.

 What they found was interesting. Men who had been exposed to various pesticides through farming, landscaping, or gardening, for example, were almost two-and-a-half times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those individuals who had not been exposed to the chemicals. Women, on the other hand, did not seem to show the same link (although this could be because men are generally more often employed in agricultural or horticultural fields than women are). People who had been exposed to the other types of chemicals that were mentioned seemed not to be at a greater risk for Parkinson’s.

 Now, researchers are unsure as to whether or not there’s a genetic factor, since the men who were exposed to pesticides seemed more vulnerable to the neurodegenerative disease than their female counterparts. It’s definitely worth further scientific research. Furthermore, as there are some questions that center on the validity of the findings, more good-quality studies are required in order to confirm the suggested link between bug-killing products and Parkinson’s disease.