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Pesticides, head injury linked to Parkinson's

THE combination of a past serious head injury and pesticide exposure may be linked to an extra-high risk of developing Parkinson's disease, a US study has revealed.

The findings, which appeared in the journal Neurology, do not prove that being knocked unconscious or exposed to certain chemicals -- particularly a herbicide called paraquat -- directly causes Parkinson's, a chronic movement and coordination disorder.

But they are in line with previous studies, which have linked head trauma and certain toxins, along with family history and other environmental exposures, to the disease.

"While traumatic brain injury and paraquat exposure each increase the risk of Parkinson's disease moderately, exposure to both factors almost tripled Parkinson's disease risk," wrote lead researcher Pei-Chen Lee, at the University of California at Los Angeles, and colleagues.


"These environmental factors seem to act together to increase Parkinson's disease risk in a more than additive manner."

For the study, the researchers compared 357 people with a recent Parkinson's diagnosis to a representative sample of 754 people without the disease. All lived in central California, a major agricultural region.

They reported past traumatic head injuries and used their home and work addresses to determine their proximity to pesticide sprayings since 1974.

Those surveys showed close to 12pc of people with Parkinson's had been knocked unconscious, and 47pc had been exposed to paraquat near both their home and workplace.