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The National Institutes of Health released research Friday that supported earlier research demonstrating a link between two pesticides and Parkinson's disease.
The study showed that people who used either rotenone or paraquat are about two-and-a-half times more likely to develop Parkinson's than people who never used either pesticide.
Pesticides were long suspected to be tied to Parkinson's, at least in part because of the high rate of the disease among farmworkers. Scientists have also been aware for many years that both paraquat and rotenone are neurotoxins that, when given to animals, reproduce features of Parkinson's in the brain.
Paraquat is a weedkiller that is known to increase the production of certain proteins in the brain that damages cells that produce dopamine. People with Parkinson's have a dopamine shortage which causes the motor problems, muscle tremors and rigidity that characterize Parkinson's.
Other studies, including one published in July 2006, claim that even low levels of exposure to household pesticides can increase the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.