New research has provided some of the strongest evidence to date linking Parkinson’s disease with pesticide exposure.
Scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas found that heightened levels of a particular pesticide in a person’s blood may result in an increased risk of Parkinson’s.
The team believes that the finding could lead to a blood test that that will identify those who are potentially susceptible. These individuals could be given preventative treatment and monitored for early signs of the disease.
The research is the first to find a specific pesticide chemical in the blood, despite previous studies highlighting higher than normal levels of organochlorine pesticides such as DDT in the brains of Parkinson’s patients.
Tests were carried out on the blood of 113 people - 50 of whom had Parkinson’s, 43 who were healthy, and 20 who had Alzheimer’s disease - to search for traces of 15 organochlorine pesticides.
One chemical, beta-HCH (hexachlorocyclohexane), was unusually likely to be found in the blood of people with Parkinson’s.
More than three quarters (76%) of the samples contained Beta-HCH, compared with 40% of the healthy volunteers and 30% of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Blood levels of the chemical were also higher among Parkinson’s patients compared with other groups.