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07/30/2009 - News

Pesticide Exposure Linked to Parkinson Disease Risk

By: June Chen, MD

Exposure to pesticides has been associated with an increased risk of Parkinson disease, but identification of the specific pesticides responsible has not been made.

Previous studies examining the brains of Parkinson disease patients after death has shown elevated levels of organochlorine pesticides. Now, researchers report in the Archives of Neurology that the organochlorine pesticide, beta-hexachlorohexacyclane (β-HCH) is linked to a diagnosis of Parkinson disease.

Scientists from Robert Wood Johnson’s Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute and their colleagues studied fifty patients with Parkinson disease and compared their blood levels of 16 organochlorine pesticides to those with Alzheimer disease or without neurological disorders. They found that β-HCH was more often detected among individuals with Parkinson disease and the average level of β-HCH was higher in Parkinson patients than the others.
The findings of this study suggest that β-HCH is associated with Parkinson disease. However, additional research is needed to identify the role of this organochlorine as a causative agent for at least some cases of Parkinson disease.


Arch Neurol. 2009;66:870-875.

Created on: 07/30/2009
Reviewed on: 07/30/2009

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