New Study Links Parkinson’s Disease Risk to Farming Regions in French Population

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Populations living in French rural regions which require higher levels of pesticide may be at a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to a study released today at the 20th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

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The current report strengthens the evidence associating PD and rural residence, and, by inference, pesticide exposure.

Populations living in French rural regions which require higher levels of pesticide may be at a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to a study released today at the 20th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

It is already known that there is evidence of a link between pesticides and incidence of PD through occupational exposure. This study, led by Sofiane Kab and a team of French researchers, investigated whether those living in rural French regions with more crops would be at a higher risk of developing PD through non-occupational exposure.

The study identified PD cases from French National Health Insurance databases from 2010-2012, and examined the association between PD rates and types of farming. They found higher rates of PD in rural areas of France, particularly in areas with many vineyards, as they require the most intense use of insecticides and fungicides. Ultimately, the data collected through the study suggest that those who live in farming regions requiring high levels of pesticide are at a greater risk of PD.
Caroline Tanner, Professor of Neurology at the University of California San Francisco and Director of the Parkinson’s Disease Research Education and Clinical Center at the San Francisco Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, states, “This current report is the largest study assessing newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease and inferred pesticide exposures. Because the study is derived from the national health insurance records of France, and investigates newly diagnosed (incident) cases, bias is minimized, providing an accurate picture for the entire population. Rural residence alone increases the risk of PD, suggesting that ambient pesticide exposure is a risk factor. Information on smoking, a recognized risk modifier, was also included, adding to the strength of the study design.” Tanner adds, “The current report strengthens the evidence associating PD and rural residence, and, by inference, pesticide exposure. More detailed investigation in this large population will be critical, and would be expected to identify specific causative pesticides, and, in turn, underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms. Ultimately, this work may identify ways to reduce PD incidence.”

About the 20th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders: Meeting attendees gather to learn the latest research findings and state-of-the-art treatment options in Movement Disorders, including Parkinson's disease. Over 5,000 physicians and medical professionals from more than 86 countries will be able to view over 2,200 scientific abstracts submitted by clinicians from around the world.

About the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society: The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), an international society of over 5,000 clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about MDS, visit http://www.movementdisorders.org.

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Elizabeth Clausen
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