Pesticide residues can promote Parkinson’s

Pesticide residues can promote Parkinson's

Parkinson’s disease affects more and more people. Pesticides could be a possible cause, especially for people who handle pesticides in the field, in the garden, or at home.

Pesticide residues can promote Parkinson's

More and more scientists see pesticides as one of the possible causes of Parkinson’s, the neurodegenerative disease that spreads around the world. It is striking that an above-average proportion of gardeners or farmers are affected by this disease.

Dr. Beate Ritz of the University of California has researched the possible causes of Parkinson’s disease for many years and has found that some pesticides (products used to control insects, weeds, and fungi) can cause the disease.


A first suspicion came in the 1980s, as heroin addicts suddenly developed Parkinson’s-like symptoms. The heroin was contaminated with a substance called MPTP (neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl, 6-tetrahydropyridine), which was neurotoxic, damaging nerve cells and causing Parkinson’s symptoms. Some pesticides are similar in structure to MPTP and therefore can also trigger Parkinson’s as can the contaminant in heroin.

Dr. Ritz found in a study that Parkinson’s patients live on average closer to agricultural areas treated with pesticides. In 2009, he examined 368 recent patients in California and compared them to 341 healthy controls. When pesticides were used up to 500 meters around the home of patients (the fungicide Maneb and the herbicide Paraquat), the risk of Parkinson’s increased by 75%, especially if they were exposed to pesticides in recent years, which means that the disease can manifest itself years after contact with pesticides.

Both pesticides are known from animal studies to cause nervous system damage associated with motor disorders in old age, as well as reduced activity of the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase. The latter, together with dopamine deficiency, produces the pathological changes in Parkinson’s. As early as April 1999, it was published in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, under the title Pesticides and Parkinson’s disease , that pesticides or their breakdown products are toxic to mitochondria and contribute to nerve cell damage and the development of Parkinson’s.


The risk is not limited to people who work with pesticides. Annals of Neurology has published that regular contact with small amounts of pesticides can increase the risk of Parkinson’s by 70%. We can all be exposed to pesticides, but some people may be more vulnerable for genetic reasons. Dr. Ritz explains that the PON1 gene is involved in the elimination of certain pesticides. If the gene is not working optimally, then the person will have great difficulty in eliminating the pesticide, increasing the risk of disease.


There are different ways to come in contact with pesticides. Many of them can be avoided and therefore reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s and other health problems.

  • Do not use chemical pesticides in the garden or with the plants on the balcony or terrace. There are many ecological alternatives to prevent and combat pests.
  • Choose organic food, which is free of pesticide residues.
  • Drink controlled natural mineral water. Water from uncontrolled wells in agricultural areas can be contaminated with pesticides. If you drink it regularly, it is a low exposure but in the long term it can be dangerous.


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