Monday, March 31, 2008

Pesticides and Parkinson’s disease

It seems like lately there have been numerous articles about the possible connection of pesticides and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, there have been numerous articles on the role that genetics plays with respect to Parkinson’s disease. My husband is always saying that I have a “why” personality. What he means is that I do not just want to know that I have a diagnosis of PD, but I also want to know why I have PD. This “why” personality does not just pertain to PD, but it applies to any circumstance that occurs in my life. I have always wanted to know why something happens, or the nexus of why something occurs. It is often difficult for me to accept that no reason exists for something that occurs in life.

Keeping all of this in mind, I started recounting my years as a child. I tried to recall if there were any circumstances that could have occurred that may have been part of the reason that I developed PD. I thought I would look at the pesticide issue first, because the genetic portion is much more in depth.

As a child, I do recall that we spent a lot of time with my aunt and uncle and another aunt and uncle who lived in a community which had a potential problem with the drinking water. In fact, whenever we stayed or visited with either family, we always drank bottled water. Later, both families would eventually be part of a class action lawsuit and receive a monetary judgment as a result of the lawsuit. There was definitely contamination of the water due to a biohazard dumpsite.

Because we spent a great deal of time with both families, I began to wonder if drinking the bottled water was enough to insure that potential harm did not occur as a result of the tainted water. There were many times that I spent the night or even longer with one of the families. My cousins and I would run through the sprinklers or sit in a children’s pool that was filled with this water. We showered or bathed with this water. Could this tainted water, which did include pesticides, have gotten into my system and had an impact? It is a very interesting question, which I am uncertain there is an answer for. Additionally, I have never cared much for bottled water, so I know there were times that I did drink the tap water. It did not taste funny as I recall. I also do not recall how often I might have drunk from the tap despite the warnings from my aunts and uncles.

We used to have many pets when I was a child. When you have multiple pets, the likelihood of fleas is high. As adults we would recount with laughter how our house became so infested with fleas one year, that you could actually see the fleas jumping out of the carpet or couch as we sat on the couch watching television. After my dad had a nightmare that fleas were biting his ears, resulting in him falling out of bed onto the floor in the middle of the night, my dad took measures to “get rid of the fleas”. We were allowed to keep one dog and two cats. The rest of the animals were given away to various friends.

Reducing the number of pets in our household was only the first measure that was taken to rid the house of fleas. The final measure that my dad took was to spray a commercial grade pesticide throughout the house. I do not know what chemical was used, but it did take care of the flea infestation. I do recall that this chemical was sprayed on all of the carpeting, couches, and our beds. Anything that was made of fabric was sprayed, almost to the point of saturation. I also believe that he re-sprayed everything a few weeks later, just to be sure that there were absolutely no more fleas.

Thinking about it now, maybe the funny events surrounding the flea infestation were not as funny as we once believed. I now wonder if this type of direct and abundant use of a pesticide inside of our house could have been another contributing factor. Additionally, I was very much a tomboy as a child, so it was very common for me to roll around on grass during games of tackle football with the neighborhood kids. It is difficult to say what types of pesticides that neighbors may have used in their yards or the city may have used in the park across the street from our house.

Although exposure to pesticides may in fact contribute to the future development of PD, I tend to believe that a person may need to be predisposed genetically for this to occur. I believe that if PD had only once source or reason for its development, then we would already have far more answers than we do now and be closer to a cure.

I have done some very extensive research into various genes that are supposedly connected to the development of Parkinson’s disease as well as other various conditions. If I am interpreting this information correctly, then Parkinson’s disease may have types that are purely genetic, but may also have types that are a combination of genetics and outside environmental factors.

In my next post I will write about the genetic research I did as it relates to various conditions in my family’s history. I found some very interesting parallels between family history and Parkinson’s disease. I would find it additionally interesting to see if other people find similar parallels within their own family history, especially those of us who appear to be the first member of a family to be diagnosed with PD. This particular post will be difficult to write, because of the scientific nature of the subject. God willing, I will be able to explain the research I did in an easy to understand format.


Mary said...

I don't think the link between PD and pesticides can be ignored. I definitely think that if you are predisposed to having PD, environmental factors, such as exposure to pesticides, can trigger it.
I've been doing a bit of research myself on the genetic aspect of it. It's a little tricky since my husband is the one with PD - his mother (now deceased) also had it, but his brother has Parkinson's Plus, or MSA. I wonder what would cause one family member to have "regular" PD, while another has PD+?
I'm very interested in your research on the matter. Can't wait to see what you post!

Diane J Standiford said...

Every time a new study connects ovarian cancer or MS with this or that, I think back and, yep, I was around that, I did that, I had that; but so did others I lived with, yet ONLY I got ovarian cancer and MS. So, I take it all with a grain of salt. Predisposed? Maybe. I think there is still much to be learned. Sounds like you will be delving further. Good for you; we all need to do and learn what we can, obviously the researchers don't have all the answers.

Anonymous said...

Nicole, The pesticides are a real issue and a viable cause of PD, in my opinion. Yet, genetics certainly play a role for some. For others, the head injury history may be the culprit. It is so hard to know what causes the proteins to clump up and the basal ganglia to lose cells.

Anyway, your article was intriguing. I recently missed the support group meeting. If you were there, I am sorry. Our Labrador retriever was ill and I needed to look after her.

Talk to you soon! Dan

Anonymous said...

Hey Nicole, Would you be willing to change my link to reflect my new dotcom?

I sure appreciate it friend. Thanks for being so helpful.

I want you to know I am pulling for your successful surgery. Dan

MarlaSt said...

Wow. I just finished reading your blog. You still have a way of expressing yourself. :-) Good for you. I hope that your surgery went well and will bring great results.
I can't believe Mikayla graduated! Man, we are getting old.
here is my e-mail if you want to get in touch.
Take care and thanks for getting in touch. I still think of the laughs and good times we had together. Head banging at Spirit West Coast and embarrassing the girls - hanging out and having a beer and tequila :-) Good times.

Caleb Manscill said...

Thanks for your posts. I'm glad I stumbled across your site! I also have a site about Parkinson's, if you are interested you can view it at Look forward to following your blog!

Mary said...

How are things going? Haven't heard from you in awhile . . . everythinkg okay??

Patient With A Plan said...

I have started putting together the information that I found. I have been away for awhile, but I think I am back up and ready to push on. It is interesting that you refer to PD-Plus, because my MDS was concerned about that being a potential diagnosis in my case. It is very interesting how one patient may have regular PD with slow progression, regular PD with more rapid progression, or a variant for of Parkinsonism. All of these aspects continue to intrigue me.

Patient With A Plan said...

I agree that there is much more to learn about the relationships between various chronic illnesses. I have been away for a while, but I am back on track. I hope all is well with you.

Patient With A Plan said...

Dan, I will definitely change the link to your new site. Surgery went fine, and hopefully things will be getting back to normal. I look forward to seeing the group again.


Patient With A Plan said...

I know I definitely feel old. It was nice to find your blog and see how well the kids are doing. Let's keep in touch, even though I'm sure that you are busy with work. Time flies by way too fast.


Patient With A Plan said...

I did get a chance to visit your site and would like to add a link to it, if you do not mind. I found your blog very informative, especially for those who may be looking for information about PD for the first time. It is always so uplifting each time I come across another blogger who is willing to reach out to help others through these blogs.


Patient With A Plan said...


Thanks for worrying about me. You are right. I have been away for some time. Hopefully, I am now back in action, and I look forward to reconnecting with everyone. Hope all is well with you and your family.