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Occupational illnesses | Research/studies | Worker health and wellness | Immigrants | Agriculture, forestry and fishing | Workplace exposures

Gene increases risk of developing Parkinson’s from pesticide exposure: study

February 18, 2014

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Los Angeles – Pesticide exposure may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and individual risk varies based on a person’s genetic makeup, according to a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Building on previous research linking pesticide exposure to Parkinson’s, researchers compared 360 people with Parkinson’s to 816 people who did not have the disease. Both groups were from agriculture-heavy counties in California where they might be exposed to pesticides both at work and at home.

The study showed 11 types of pesticides inhibit the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which is associated with Parkinson’s risk. People with a certain gene variant were found to be especially susceptible to pesticides and had 2 to 3 times the risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Researchers noted that the pesticides affected ALDH at quite low concentrations, and the pesticides were commonly used in several settings.

The study was published online Feb. 4 in the journal Neurology.