Parkinsons risk 'from raised pesticide level in blood'

People with raised levels of a particular pesticide in their blood may have an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, research published yesterday showed.

The findings provide some of the strongest evidence yet linking Parkinson's and pesticide exposure. Scientists believe they could lead to a blood test that would identify potentially susceptible individuals. Those at risk could then be given protective treatment and monitored for early signs of the disease.



Previous studies have found higher than normal levels of organochlorine pesticides such as DDT in the brains of Parkinson's patients. But the new research is the first to highlight a specific pesticide chemical in the blood.



Scientists studied 113 people aged 50 to 89. Fifty had Parkinson's, 43 were healthy, and 20 had Alzheimer's disease.



Tests were carried out on their blood 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.



Beta-HCH was detected in 76% of these samples compared with 40% of the healthy volunteers and 30% of Alzheimer's sufferers.



Blood levels of the chemical were also markedly higher among Parkinson's patients compared with the other groups.



Study leader Professor Dwight German, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, US, said: "There's been a link between pesticide use and Parkinson's disease for a long time, but never a specific pesticide.



"This is particularly important because the disease is not diagnosed until after significant nerve damage has occurred. A test for this risk factor might allow for early detection and protective treatment."



Organochlorines were widely used from the 1950s to the 1970s but are now much more tightly regulated.



They persist in the environment for years without breaking down, dissolve in fats, and are known to damage nerves.



"Much higher levels of the beta-HCH were in the air, water and food chain when the Parkinson's patients were in their 20s and 30s," said Prof German. "Also, the half-life of the pesticide is seven to eight years, so it stays in the body for a long time."



The scientists, who report their findings today in the journal Archives of Neurology, believe pesticide exposure is just one of a number of factors that contribute to Parkinson's.



Evidence suggests some people have a genetic make-up that makes them sensitive to the chemicals. They may not be able to metabolise, or break down, the substances as well as others. This would explain why the Parkinson's patients in the study had raised levels of beta-HCH in their blood.



Another possibility was that beta-HCH was not the harmful agent itself, but acted as a marker for the presence of another damaging chemical.



The scientists wrote: "It is possible that elevated levels of beta-HCH may be a useful clinical measure to identify people who may have an increased risk of PD (Parkinson's disease), particularly when combined with information about genetic polymorphisms in genes that metabolise organochlorine pesticides."

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Year 1 Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Year 1 Primary Supply Teachers needed for...

    Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: EY/KS1 Qualified Teaching Assistant J...

    Qualified and unqualified nursery assistants

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified and unquali...

    Primary Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: KS1 & KS2 Teaching Job in Plymouth an...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album