Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides have all been linked to a wide range of health problems, which is why there is such a high demand for organic produce.
Fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats that are produced without the need for strong chemicals are believed to be much healthier, not to mention less likely to cause problems like cancer.
It turns out that cancer’s not the only health disorder linked to the strong chemicals used on crops. Now, a new link has been discovered between insecticides and Parkinson’s disease!
How is this Possible?
A study conducted at Emory University School of Medicine discovered that there is a compound in pesticides that can increase your risk of developing Parkinson’s.
Pesticides (even the kind you use in your home) contain pyrethoids, which have been proven to be toxic to insects. However, they are neurotoxic, meaning they specifically attack the brains of the insects you are trying to kill.
The problem is that these pesticides, claimed by the FDA to be safe for human exposure, may increase the risk of the onset of Parkinson’s disease. How is this possible?
In humans, there is a group of genes called MHC II. These genes help to regulate your immune system, but when there is a specific variant of these MHC II genes, it is an indicator that someone is more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
But when someone already has the MHC II gene variant present in their DNA structure and they are exposed to the pyrethoids in the pesticides, their risk of developing Parkinson’s is increased significantly. Of those exposed to the pesticides, those with the MHC II gene variant had nearly 2.5 times the chance of Parkinson’s than those with normal MHC II genes.
Interestingly enough, it was only exposure to pyrethoid pesticides that increased the risk of Parkinson’s. In other tests, people with the same MHC II gene variant were exposed to paraquat and organophospate pesticides, but neither increased their risk of developing Parkinson’s.
How does this happen? Exposure to pesticides causes the chemicals to be absorbed into the body, where it begins to cause problems. Your immune system senses that there is damage being done and thus acts, treating the toxins as invaders (which they are). The heightened immune response caused by the exposure to pesticides that contain pyrethoids can lead to serious problems.
According to Malu Tansey, associate professor of physiology at Emory University School of Medicine and co-senior author of this study,
“There is already ample evidence that brain inflammation or an overactive immune system can drive the progression of Parkinson’s. What we think may be happening here is that environmental exposures may be altering some people’s immune responses, in a way that promotes chronic inflammation in the brain.”
Of course, it’s impossible for the average Joe to know what their chances of actually carrying the MHC II gene variant are without undergoing DNA testing. Probably not going to happen! So how can you prevent chemicals from increasing your risk of Parkinson’s?
The best solution is to limit your exposure to chemical pesticides, particularly those with pyrethoids. This may sound easier said than done, but thankfully the EPA has prepared a list of pyrethoid pesticides. You can look over the list and see which pesticides are better to avoid.
Naturally, the best option is to use natural and organic pesticides. But, if you must use chemical pesticides, it’s better to use the ones that will not cause harm to your brain.