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Parkinson’s Disease and Pesticides Linked – Experts

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ParkinsonsNeurologist Dr. Ray Dorsey has opined that, “[T]he rise of Parkinson’s disease may be largely human-made.” An expert in the risk of certain pesticides, Dr. Dorsey thinks activism is crucial to changing the course of the disease.

Dr. Ray Dorsey

Dr. Dorsey is the David M. Levy Professor of Neurology and Director of the Center for Health + Technology at the University of Rochester. He and his colleagues dsxczseek to help people receive care, participate in research, and benefit from therapeutic advances. His research has been published in leading medical, neurology, and economic journals, and featured on NPR, in the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. The White House recognized him in 2015 as a “Champion for Change” for Parkinson’s disease.

Environmental factors linked to Parkinson’s

The rise of Parkinson’s may be largely caused by humans, says Dr. Dorsey. The condition is tied to several environmental factors, including certain pesticides, industrial solvents, heavy metals, and air pollution. The evidence for the link is strongest for certain pesticides such as paraquat, but industrial solvents such as trichloroethylene (TCE) are also likely major contributors. Air pollution has been less studied but could also be influential.

How Parkinson’s is a Man-Made Disease Linked to Pesticides. . .  

In ‘Ending Parkinson’s Disease: A Prescription for Action’, Dr Ray Dorsey, Dr Todd Sherer, Dr Michael Okun, and Dr Bastiaan Bloem outline 25 steps that people can take to end Parkinson’s. The first two steps are to ban paraquat and TCE.

Pesticide Link with Parkinson’s

Many pesticides are nerve toxins that target the parts of cells that are also known to be damaged in Parkinson’s, and that dissolve in fat, which is the main material of the mammalian brain. Rats and mice given pesticides develop Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Dorsey told one interviewer that he had known about the link between pesticides and Parkinson’s, but did not know the extent of the evidence, and the strength of the relationship between them.

“I also didn’t know that chemicals like TCE (trichlorethylene) are the most common contaminant of water found underground and contaminate thousands of sites around the US – including one 15 minutes from my home in suburban Rochester, New York.”

Farmers most at risk of being affected by pesticides

Numerous studies suggest that farmers are at a 50 to 200% increased risk, and that residents of rural areas and drinkers of well water are also at higher risk. In the state of Nebraska, a registry of Parkinson’s has shown the rates of the condition in the country’s rural areas are two to four times higher than in urban areas such as Omaha.

The most industrialized areas of the world, like the US and western Europe, have the highest rates of Parkinson’s. The least industrialized, such as sub-Saharan Africa, have the lowest rates of Parkinson’s. Those going through the most rapid industrialization, like China, have the highest increases.

Dr. Dorsey says that despite those statistics, we’ve been unwilling to invest in addressing these toxic problems.

Dr. Dorsey says “our book” was written for lay people, not for researchers. “It is dedicated to those who bear the burden of the condition,” he said. “All of its authors are devoting the proceeds to efforts to end Parkinson’s.”

Environmental Factors and Parkinson’s

Researchers believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors can cause Parkinson’s. Chemicals, viruses, bacteria, and heavy metals have all been linked to Parkinson’s disease. The reason may be that any or all of these may damage or even kill dopamine-producing neurons. Scientific evidence has also suggested a connection between herbicides/pesticides and Parkinson’s.


  • Environmental Risk Factors for Parkinson’s. . .
  • ObamaWhiteHouse Archives: gov/blog/2015/03/30/
  • EPDA website
  • Parkinson’s Lawsuit – Pesticide Attorney

by Matthews & Associates

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