French researchers find link between DDT exposure and Parkinson’s Disease

French researchers looked at men who possess a gene that predisposes them to Parkinson’s Disease, and found that DDT exposure correlates with actual onset of the disease.

(Reuters) – Men with certain genetic variations who were exposed to some toxic pesticides which are now largely banned run an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, French scientists said Monday.

Researchers found that among men exposed to pesticides such as DDT, carriers of the gene variants were three and a half times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those with the normal version of the gene.

The scientists, whose work was published in the Archives of Neurology journal, think the brains of people with the gene variant fail to flush out toxins as efficiently as those with normal versions of the gene, suggesting environmental as well as genetic factors are important in the risk of Parkinson’s.

DDT, which belongs to a group of pesticides known as organochlorines, is one of the “Dirty Dozen” chemicals banned by a 2001 United Nations convention after it was found to be a toxin that can suppress the immune system.

It is infamous for threatening bird populations by thinning eggshells, and has also been linked to increase risks in humans of diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s — an incurable and often deadly brain disease.

But exemptions to the DDT ban are allowed in many developing nations because it so effective in killing mosquitoes. DDT’s Swiss inventor Paul Hermann Muller won the 1948 Nobel Prize for Medicine — before its wider toxic effects were known.

Alexis Elbaz and Fabien Dutheil, of France’s National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) studied 101 men with Parkinson’s and 234 without the disease to look at links between organochlorine exposure and Parkinson’s disease.

The study included only men, and all of them had had high levels of exposure to pesticides through their work as farmers.

The scientists found the link was around 3.5 times stronger in men who carried two copies of a gene known as ABCB1, which plays a role in helping the brain flush out dangerous chemicals.

File that one away for the next time some yahoo claims there are no harmful effects to health from DDT.  The study probably could not distinguish between heavy exposure to pesticides and the much lighter exposure assumed to result from Indoor Residual Spraying of DDT, such as is used in some places in Africa in the fight against malaria.

Anybody got a copy of the actual study, in English?

5 Responses to French researchers find link between DDT exposure and Parkinson’s Disease

  1. DR Glickman says:

    But wait – there’s more! Agricultural workers drink well water in higher amounts. We know well water (unfiltered) contains manganese. Manganese is known to accumulate in the mitochondria of dopaminergic cells in or near the substantia nigra causing degradation of dopamine production. More research may be needed. DDT was used in WWII on human refugees who later developed movement disorders.


  2. […] heck Jeanie ( do you know they still use it in 3rd world countries???) French researchers find link between DDT exposure and Parkinson’s Disease Millard Fillmore&#82… I bet there's a few farmers here who have some stashed away in their barns! __________________ […]


  3. bug_girl says:

    I believe this is the one?

    Interaction Between ABCB1 and Professional Exposure to Organochlorine Insecticides in Parkinson Disease

    Fabien Dutheil, PhD; Philippe Beaune, Pharm, PhD; Christophe Tzourio, MD, PhD; Marie-Anne Loriot, Pharm, PhD; Alexis Elbaz, MD, PhD

    Arch Neurol. 2010;67(6):739-745.

    Objective To study the association between Parkinson disease (PD) and 2 polymorphisms in ABCB1 among subjects enrolled in the French health system for agricultural workers (Mutualité Sociale Agricole), as well as the interaction between ABCB1 and organochlorine insecticides.

    Our findings suggest that the ABCB1 gene and exposure to organochlorine insecticides interact to increase PD risk: in subjects professionally exposed to organochlorines, polymorphisms associated with a decreased ability of ABCB1 to clear xenobiotics from the brain increased the risk of PD. These findings support the hypothesis of gene x pesticides interactions in PD.


  4. […] French researchers find link between DDT exposure and Parkinson's … […]


  5. […] French researchers find link between DDT exposure and Parkinson's … […]


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