Studies Show Environmental Toxins are One Likely Cause of Parkinson's

From: Robina Suwol
Date: 09 Dec 2004
Time: 19:32:30
Remote Name:


National Dec. 8, 2004

Phan Phan has battled Parkinson's Disease his entire adult life. It has slowed his speech and partially paralyzed his limbs. Recent studies show environmental toxins are one likely cause of Parkinson's.

Dr. J. William Langston says that includes household pesticides like the weed killer paraquat, "There are specific pesticides such as paraquat that have been widely used in the environment that have been shown to induce some of the changes in the brain of experimental animals that are similar to Parkinson's. Another one called rotenone reproduces many of the aspects of Parkinson's Disease in laboratory animals."

Dr. Langston says rotenone has been used in more than 6000 over-the-counter products in the US, "It's in the roots of plants and has been widely used for centuries to kill fish in ponds."

Other research shows exposure to heavy metals also raises the risk of Parkinson's. In one study, workers exposed to lead, copper and iron together had a greater risk of Parkinson's than when exposed to any metal alone.

Langston says a bill recently passed in California to start a Parkinson's disease registry, "This will allow us to track all of the cases in a geographically defined area that is California, and I think this will greatly aid our research for the cause."

Scientists are one step closer to understanding the environment's role in this devastating disease with both funding and research plunging ahead.

One study from the Parkinson's Institute with 14,000 pairs of twins shows the environment plays a larger role than genetics in determining who will develop Parkinson's disease.

For more information call Heather Chester of the Parkinson's Institute at (800) 786-2958.

Reported by Dawn Mercer

Last changed: March 14, 2006