Study also found that genes affect the level of risk
MONDAY, Feb. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Researchers say they’ve identified a number of common pesticides that increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, and that they’ve also discovered that people’s genes can affect their level of risk.
In a previous study, the University of California, Los Angeles team found that exposure to a banned pesticide called benomyl increases the risk of Parkinson’s. In this new study, the researchers said they identified 11 other pesticides that increase that risk.
The pesticides inhibit an enzyme called “aldehyde dehydrogenase” (ALDH). It converts compounds called aldehydes — which are highly toxic to brain cells that produce a chemical called dopamine — into less harmful compounds.
A lack of dopamine causes the tremors, limb stiffness and loss of balance experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The UCLA researchers also found that people with a common variant of the ALDH2 gene are particularly vulnerable to these ALDH-inhibiting pesticides, according to a university news release. People with the variant are two to six times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those without the variant when exposed to the pesticides. Read more.