Brain Injury, Pesticide Exposure, Parkison’s Disease Linked


A study led by Pei-Chen Lee from the University of California at Los Angeles looked at 357       people with a recent Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis and compared them to a representative sample of 754 people. Both groups resided in central California, a major agricultural center. All individuals were asked to report past traumatic brain injuries, in which they were unconscious for at least 5 minutes. Additionally, the researchers used the home and work addresses of the study participants to determine their proximity to agricultural pesticide spraying since 1974.

The study revealed that 12% of the individuals with Parkinson’s Disease had been knocked unconscious and 47% had been exposed to an herbicide called Paraquat near their home or workplace. In the control group, 7% had been knocked unconscious and 39% experienced pesticide exposure. Traumatic brain injury as well as living and working near pesticide sprayings were tied to a moderately increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease. When brain injury and pesticide exposure were combined the risk tripled.

The researchers noted that traumatic brain injury increases inflammation in the brain and can disrupt the barrier which separates circulating blood from brain fluid. They believe that this may be the gateway to making neurons in the brain more vulnerable to the effects of pesticides. Dr. James Bower, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, commented, “I think all of us are beginning to realize that there’s not one smoking gun that causes Parkinson’s Disease…..There may be many paths to the ultimate development of Parkinson’s Disease”.

We know that brain injury may increase the neurodegenerative disease later in life. The UCLA study brings to light an enhanced risk from chemical exposure related to TBI.


Tag Lines: James Bower, M.D., Pei-Chen Lee, Parkinson’s Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury,  disease


About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.
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