Study Links Brain Injury to Parkinson’s
Suffering a head injury and being exposed to pesticides makes for a bad combination that increases one’s chances of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study.
The University of California at Los Angeles recently published the research, “Traumatic brain injury, paraquat exposure, and their relationship to Parkinson’s disease,” in the journal Neurology. The study’s finding was that exposure to pesticides and having sustained a head injury triples one’s odds of contracting Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease.
The UCLA study surveyed more than 1,000 people 35 and older in central California, according to ENews Park Forest. Of the subjects, 357 were diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which destroys muscle control and coordination.
Those with the disease were almost two times as likely than those without the disease to report that they had suffered a head injury that knocked them out for five minutes or more, ENews reported.
Scientists also discovered that those who had Parkinson’s were also more likely, 36 percent more likely, to live within 500 meters of a location where the pesticide paraquat was used, according to ENews. Almost half of the subjects with Parkinson’s had been exposed to paraquat, versus 39 percent of the non-Parkinson’s subject, the study found.
Parkinson’s occurs when the nerve cells in the substania nigra area of the brain are “damaged or destroyed” and can’t produce dopamine anymore, ENews reported. Dopamine helps the brain control muscles.
“While each of these two factors (TBI and paraquat) is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s on their own, the combination is associated with greater risk than just adding the two factors together,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Beate Ritz, said in a statement.
According to ENews, Ritz theorized that a brain injury could start a physiological process that increases brain cells’ “vulnerability to attacks from toxic pesticides, or vice versa.”