Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.
According to the National Health Service, the three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:
• involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor)
• slow movement
• stiff and inflexible muscles
A person with Parkinson’s disease can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This leads to a reduction in a chemical called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. A reduction in dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
It’s not known why the loss of nerve cells associated with Parkinson’s disease occurs, although it’s believed to be a combination of genetic changes and environmental factors.
There is no cure, but there are treatments to reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life.

So what can we do about environmental factors?

To prevent Parkinson’s, or at least reduce the odds, you can’t do anything about genetic factors, so what about factors that you can control?

The Mayo Clinic in the US:
Exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk of later Parkinson’s disease, but the risk is relatively small.
Some research has shown that regular aerobic exercise might reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Some other research has shown that people who drink caffeine — which is found in coffee, tea and cola — get Parkinson’s disease less often than those who don’t drink it.

The Parkinson’s UK organisation:
“There is some evidence that environmental factors (toxins) may cause dopamine-producing neurons to die, leading to the development of Parkinson’s. The term ‘environment’ refers to the world around you and the pathogens (viruses and bacteria), toxic chemicals and heavy metals that occupy it. In particular, there has been a great deal of speculation about the link between the use of herbicides and pesticides and the development of Parkinson’s.”

Johns Hopkins University in the US:
Medical experts believe that environmental causes may help trigger Parkinson’s disease. Exposure to farming chemicals, like pesticides and herbicides; and working with heavy metals, detergents and solvents have all been implicated and studied for a clearer link. That said, it’s unlikely that most people who develop Parkinson’s disease do so because of exposure to environmental hazards.
Head trauma: Repeated blows to the head likely increases one’s risk of developing Parkinson’s, but “at this point, we don’t know with 100 percent certainty that it causes the disease,”
Here are environmental factors that may play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease:

• Pesticides/herbicides
• Manganese and other metals
• Solvents
• Organic pollutants

In “How Not To Die”, Doctor Greger has these observations:
Chemical pollutants may be a factor, in particular:
• Heavy metals: Arsenic from poultry and tuna. Lead from dairy. Mercury from seafood.
• DDT: from meat, particularly fish.
• PCB: fish and fish oil, followed by eggs, dairy and other meat.
• Dioxins: (in US) butter, then eggs, then processed meat.
• Pesticides: in food, dairy, and insect sprays.
Dairy seems to be a particular problem. PD risk increases by 17% for each daily cup of milk. Also cheese may be a long-term issue too.

Doctor Greger’s advice overall is that to decrease your risk: avoid head injury, exercise regularly, avoid being overweight, eat peppers, berries and green tea, minimise exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, dairy, animal products.

In Summary

There are no guarantees, but it makes sense to:

  • Go at least part-way vegan, and reduce the amount you eat of dairy, eggs, meat and fish
  • Avoid contact with herbicides, pesticides, and solvents
  • Eat organic fruit and vegetables (with no pesticides or other toxins)
  • Take regular aerobic exercise
  • Avoid head injury

Link to my post on “How Not to Die