Parkinson’s disease is a devastating illness. As reported by WebMD Parkinson’s disease affects the nerve cells in the brain which produce dopamine and leads to debilitating symptoms which include muscle rigidity and tremors along with changes in gait and speech. Live Science reported on Dec. 9, 2015, there may be an association between a pesticide which was found in milk decades ago and Parkinson’s disease.
According to a new study a pesticide which was found to be present in milk in the early 1980s may be associated with signs of Parkinson’s disease which are showing up in people at this time. This study was done on Japanese-American men in Hawaii where the pesticide was often used. It was observed that those who consumed greater than two cups of milk a day at the beginning of the study had 40 percent less brain cells in an area of the brain which is called the substantia nigra 30 years later, on average, in comparison with similar men who did not drink as much milk daily.
The researchers have said an early sign of Parkinson’s disease may be a loss of brain cells in the substantia nigra. This can begin decades prior to when any visible symptoms of the disease are seen. It was also discovered by the researchers that residues of the pesticide which is called heptachlor epoxide were found in the brains of 90 percent of the men who drank the most milk in comparison with 63 percent of those men who simply did not drink any milk at all.
In the early 1980s high levels of heptachlor epoxide were found in the milk supply in Hawaii. This chemical was being used for insect control in the pineapple industry. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the commercial sale of this pesticide for use in agriculture was banned in the United States by 1988. However according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry there is a related substance which can still be used today to control fire ants which are in electrical grid machinery.
This study has been published in the journal Neurology. It has been suggested by the findings in this study that diet may play a significant role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. The researchers believe that people should be vigilant about consuming food which may contain pesticides.
Whether or not contamination of milk with organochlorine pesticides actually plays a significant role in substantia nigra neurodegeneration is worthy of further study. It should also be kept in that another cause of a Parkinson’s disease like syndrome of involuntary movements or movement disorder is from the neuroleptic drugs which the psychiatrists prescribe regularly as reported on by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.