Tag Archives: Parkinson’s Disease and Environmental Triggers

Parkinson’s Disease and Environmental Triggers, cont.

Patricia, a fellow mold survivor, friend, and follower, recently commented on the blog post Parkinson’s Disease and Environmental Risk Factors.  She mentioned that she had read something linking Parkinson’s with mold exposure.  While visiting this site to look at what was written, I also discovered that there was a paper relating low level exposure to Ochratoxin-A  with decreased dopamine levels (something that those with Parkinson’s Disease deal with).

Those of us suffering from mold exposure have enough to worry about with the increased cancer risk we face.  Now we have to consider early Parkinson’s Disease as well.

This is why I fight so hard to get the word out about mold, mycotoxins, and their affects on the human body.

Parkinson’s Disease and Environmental Risk Factors

I have posted about my father’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease.  I have also stated that I believe all the things he has done during his lifetime have had a direct relationship to the disease.    Are there genetic factors involved as well?  That is possible.  However, his exposure to so many toxic substances certainly contributed to cell death in the dopamine neurons.

Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic progressive movement disorder that affects the lives of at least one half million patients across the United States.  People with Parkinson’s Disease also experience non-motor symptoms including changes in cognition and mood, sleep disturbances and autonomic dysfunction.

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation states: In some people, genetic factors may play a role; in others, illness, an environmental toxin or other event may contribute to Parkinson’s Disease.

Although researchers increasingly recognize the importance of genetics in Parkinson’s, most believe environmental exposures increase a person’s risk of developing the disease.  Even in inherited cases, exposure to toxins or other environmental factors may influence when symptoms appear and how the disease progresses.  Researchers are also pursuing viruses as another possible environmental trigger.  NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) funded researchers in Alabama who have discovered that a common soil bacterium produces a metabolite that disrupts a protein degradation pathway associated with Parkinson’s Disease.

The NIEHS also funded epidemiologists at the University of California Los Angeles.  They found that exposure to the combination of the fungicide maneb and the herbicide paraquat increased the risk of later development of Parkinson’s Disease.  The study also reports that living within 500 meters (about 1/3 of a mile) of agricultural operations where the pesticides were sprayed increased the risk by 75 percent.  The exposures occurred between 1975 and 1999.  The study included 368 long-term Central Valley residents with Parkinson’s.  (The scary part is that I live in the Central Valley.)

Currently there are no biomarkers for Parkinson’s.  A study has recently been launched to accelerate research into biomarkers for Parkinson’s Disease.

The Collaborative on Health and the Environment also talks about Parkinson’s Disease and environmental risk factors.  Some risks are having had a head injury or a history of depression (this interests me).  Other risks are living in a rural area and drinking well water (Could this be from chemicals being used in farms and dairies?).  Other risk factors are being a farmer, rancher, fisher or a welder (Welders like my father are exposed to copper fumes and manganese which has been said to be an environmental factor in Parkinson’s Disease).  Lastly they list being frequently exposed to solvents and my father used to have his hands in solvents all the time degreasing auto parts and engines.

According to the report in Collaborative on Health and the Environment: Many neurologists tell their patients “genetics loads the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger.”  This could also be said about other diseases .  How many of us have a predisposition to a certain illness and environmental exposures pull the trigger?   The report goes on to state that the standard against which other chemicals are evaluated when assessing causal links to Parkinson’s is MPTP (MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) is a neurotoxin precursor to MPP+, which causes permanent symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by destroying dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain.).  In the 1980s, some San Francisco drug users mistakenly took MPTP—a compound chemically similar to the pesticide paraquat—instead of heroin. Within weeks or months, many of them developed irreversible Parkinson-like symptoms. The chemical has a consistently similar effect in lab animals.

I just find this all very discomforting.  My dad may have the genetic predisposition to getting Parkinson’s Disease, but all that he was exposed to as neurologists have said may very well have pulled the trigger for him.  If he has this gene, do I?

What are your thoughts?  Do any of you know of someone suffering from Parkinson’s?  Did they have any of these kinds of exposures during their lifetime?  I am curious.


Happy Birthday Dad

I recently signed up to participate in The Beautiful Woman BlogFest II    taking place later this month where we will talk about what we think beauty is and honoring beautiful women.  Today I am talking about what it is to be a man we can look up to.

My dad will be celebrating his 79th birthday this month.  My dad has always been the epitome of what a gentleman should be.  My dad is 6’4″ and in his younger days scared off many a boy suitor because of his commanding size and presence.  Yet to my sister and I he was the gentle giant.

My dad worked hard all his life to support first my mother and then my sister and I as well.  He helped build the runway at a local military air base.  He worked for years as an auto mechanic and then a welder.  It was at this last job at the age of 42 my dad became disabled.  He injured his back which led to damage to the nerve in one leg leaving him with numbness.  It was hard as a young woman to see my strong (known as vice grips to his friends because of his ability to undo just about anything with the strength of his hands alone) father become incapacitated at such a young age.  My father took it in stride and did the best he could within his limitations.

This was the first blow my dad has had to face over the  years of his life.  In his late 60’s or early 70’s he began to suffer tremors and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  Holding a cup of his favorite brew, coffee, was difficult.  He fell a lot as well.  Not to be held back he and my mother began searching for answers and found out about a new treatment called DBS (deep brain stimulation).  My dad just made the age limit and had the procedure done.  This procedure required him to be awake on the operating table while areas of the brain were stimulated to see where the stimulators needed to be replaced to best stop the tremors.  The surgery was a success and my dad immediately stopped having tremors but has had to have the batteries placed a few times.

The last blow to my dad  was a heart attack almost a year and a half ago.  Despite all these set backs, the falls my dad still has, the shortness of breath and the difficulty being heard with his speech, my dad still is able to joke with us and continue to push forward.

My dad is an amazing man to have gone through so much and still not let it beat him down.  When I get down because of my limitations I think of all that my dad has gone through and it encourages me to keep going  and to fight.  The most difficult part of my illness is that I cannot go into his home without becoming sick.  We have to limit our visits (weather permitting) to sitting in his yard or mine or having him suit up and come into my home.  But we all make sacrifices and do what we have to do.

Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you.

The original title of this post was going to be Parkinson’s and Environmental Triggers and ended up being a tribute to my dad.  I believe that all the solvents my dad was around and had his hands as well as all the welding my dad has done over the years surely put him at risk for Parkinson’s Disease.  I am working on a separate post about some of the environmental risk factors linked to Parkinson’s Disease.