According to the researchers in Mayo Clinic increased pesticide usage in farming is linked to raise the risk of Parkinson's disease in men. But they have also found that this scenario is not the same for women. Findings will be published in the June issue of the journal Movement Disorders. 'This confirms what has been found in previous studies: that occupational or other exposure to herbicides, insecticides and other pesticides increases risk for Parkinson's,' says Jim Maraganore, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and study investigator.
'What we think may be happening is that pesticide use combines with other risk factors in men's environment or genetic makeup, causing them to cross over the threshold into developing the disease. By contrast, estrogen may protect women from the toxic effects of pesticides.' The investigators identified all those in Olmsted County, Minn., home of Mayo Clinic, who had developed Parkinson's disease between 1976 and 1995. Each person with Parkinson's disease was matched for comparison to someone similar in age and gender who did not have the disease. The researchers conducted telephone interviews with 149 of those with Parkinson's and 129 of those who did not have the disease, or a proxy for these people, to assess exposure to chemical products via farming occupation, non-farming occupation or hobbies.