More Evidence Links Pesticides to Parkinson’s
Copied from The Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation Weekly News Update
Psych Central - UCLA neurologists have discovered a link between the pesticide benomyl, a product whose toxicological effects still linger some 10 years after the chemical was banned, and Parkinson’ s disease.
The finding adds to the list of pesticides (paraquat, maneb and ziram) that have been tied to increases in Parkinson’s not only among farmworkers but in individuals who simply lived or worked near fields and likely inhaled drifting particles.
Researchers believe the association among benomyl and Parkinson’s disease is strong as the damaging series of events set in motion by benomyl may also occur in people with Parkinson’s disease who were never exposed to the pesticide, said Dr. Jeff Bronstein, senior author of the study and a professor of neurology at UCLA.
Benomyl exposure, they say, starts a cascade of cellular events that may lead to Parkinson’s. The pesticide prevents an enzyme called ALDH (aldehyde dehydrogenase) from keeping a lid on DOPAL, a toxin that naturally occurs in the brain.
When left unchecked by ALDH, DOPAL accumulates, damages neurons and increases an individual’s risk of developing Parkinson’s.
The investigators believe their findings concerning benomyl may be generalized to all Parkinson’s patients.
Developing new drugs to protect ALDH activity, they say, may eventually help slow the progression of the disease, whether or not an individual has been exposed to pesticides.
The research is published in the current online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions worldwide. Its symptoms increase with the progressive degeneration of neurons, primarily in a part of the mid-brain called the substantia nigra.
This area normally produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter that allows cells to communicate, and damage to the mid-brain has been linked to the disease.
Often, symptoms of Parkinson’s become apparent after more than half of these neurons, known as dopaminergic neurons, have already been lost.
While researchers have identified certain genetic variations that cause an inherited form of Parkinson’s, only a small fraction of the disease can be blamed on genes, said the study’s first author, Arthur G. Fitzmaurice, M.D.
“As a result, environmental factors almost certainly play an important role in this disorder,” Fitzmaurice said.
“Understanding the relevant mechanisms — particularly what causes the selective loss of dopaminergic neurons — may provide important clues to explain how the disease develops.”
Benomyl was widely used in the U.S. for three decades until toxicological evidence revealed it could potentially lead to liver tumors, brain malformations, reproductive effects and carcinogenesis. It was banned in 2001.
The researchers wanted to explore whether there was a relationship between benomyl and Parkinson’s, which would demonstrate the possibility of long-lasting toxicological effects from pesticide use, even a decade after chronic exposure.
“We’ve known that in animal models and cell cultures, agricultural pesticides trigger a neurodegenerative process that leads to Parkinson’s,” said Bronstein, who directs the UCLA Movement Disorders Program.
“And epidemiologic studies have consistently shown the disease occurs at high rates among farmers and in rural populations. Our work reinforces the hypothesis that pesticides may be partially responsible, and the discovery of this new pathway may be a new avenue for developing therapeutic drugs.”
Loss of Confidence
This is John Pepper.
Over the past few years, I have spoken, one-on-one to a large number of Parkinson’s patients. I have noticed one predominant characteristic in many of them. They appeared to have lost their self-confidence, as I had, at the time of writing the book. I spoke about this in my book, when talking about depression. I said that, in my case, depression was probably the worst symptom of all, because it,
‘robbed me of the will to help myself’
When talking to people with Parkinson’s disease (PwP’s), I usually raise this matter, and those who are aware of this problem usually agree with that statement.
If we are able to objectively analyse our own condition, we will realise that we are not the people we once used to be. I don’t mean in a physical sense, although that changes too, but rather a psychological sense.
· How self-motivated are we now?
· Do we still take on new challenges?
· Do we savour the thought of meeting new people?
· Do we willingly make new contacts with total strangers?
· Do we still make plans for the future, or do we leave that to others?
· When the telephone rings, are we quite relaxed, when answering it, or are we reluctant?
· Are we comfortable with learning new skills, or are we defensive in our approach to learning?
We cannot generalise on this subject, because I never cease to be amazed at the skills of some PwP’s. I have seen artwork that compares well with the very best there is.
I have seen, ‘calligraphy’ done by Mrs Janet Ward, who lives in England, which is superb. I don’t know if Janet learned this skill, after she was diagnosed, but the fact that she is still prepared to undertake this activity means that she is confident enough to still try.
The same goes for Mrs Grace Ravno, here in South Africa, who took up 'calligraphy' again, after she had spoken to me, at a support group meeting.
Mrs Cynthia Ho, also in England, does beautiful, ‘encaustic’ paintings, (Painting done with hot wax). I never asked her if she did this work before developing Pd, or if she had stopped doing it, when she knew she had Pd.
There are many others around, who also 'paint' or write 'poetry', and I am thinking,
· Do they think they lack self-confidence?
· Did they ever feel a lack of self-confidence, since being diagnosed?
· How did they overcome this feeling, if they did suffer from it in the first place?
Why am I going on about this confidence business? Well! I am always carrying on about exercise, and I am aware that many of you think to yourselves,
‘it’s all right for him, he can still do exercise’,
while you believe that:
‘you are no longer able to do anything like that anymore’.
I fully understand this conviction, but,
‘I don’t necessarily agree with it’.
If you haven’t really tried to do meaningful exercise, and I mean really tried, then how would you ever know?
Why do we need to do exercise?
My motivation relates to the article I sent out previously, which gave us the exciting news that our brain produces a growth factor, when it thinks we are under attack. We have all heard of the, ‘Fight or Flight Syndrome’. This tells us that, when we are under attack, we either have to stand up and fight, or run for our lives.
This growth factor helps to restore the damaged neurons, when we do energetic exercise for the optimal time of one hour, three times a week, on alternate days.
Exercise has to be approached very carefully. Everybody should first seek medical advice, before embarking on exercise. They should also ascertain what type of exercise they should avoid, bearing in mind their own medical history.
Having been told what to avoid, there is nothing else stopping you from doing regular exercise. Your body is possibly totally unfit, but that does not stop you from changing that situation. The first warning is,
‘Don’t do too much, too soon’
Start slowly! If you have not done any vigorous exercise over the past two weeks, then you will be well advised to only exercise for as little as five minutes, every second day, for the first two weeks. If possible, try to do ten minutes to begin with. It is also advisable,
‘Don't exercise every day’,
as your muscles need a day to recover from the previous day’s exercise.
Every second week, you should be able to increase the time spent exercising by five more minutes, making a total of ten minutes, if you started at five minutes, in the third and fourth weeks. After twenty-four weeks,
you will be doing one full hour of exercise, every second day.
Your first reaction to this achievement will be, amazement! You will wonder why you thought you could not do it?
Your second realization will be that you feel a lot better, in yourself. Your breathing will have improved. You will find that you can get up and down a lot easier. You will also realize that,
‘your whole attitude will have changed.’
The next thing that happens is that you will look at your future prospects in a different light.
Let me now put a bit of a damper on this exciting prospect.
Many of the people I have encouraged to take up regular exercise, failed to put any real effort into that exercise, with the result that it did nothing for them. They then had the dubious pleasure in saying afterwards,
“I told you so. I knew it wouldn’t work!”
If you have that attitude at the beginning, then save yourself the bother, and don’t waste your time exercising. It will never work, if you don’t put your whole heart and soul into it. While you are walking,
‘you should be out of breath’,
but not to the extent that you can’t talk at all. You should feel tired and need a rest after the exercise. If you don’t, then you did not put enough into it, in the first place.
This is a common problem. Don’t forget, you have a movement disorder, and any movement can be awkward and/or uncomfortable.
‘Parkinson’s disease is a problem in the brain’,
not the body. The brain controls the body, and if the brain does not work properly, then the body does not work properly either. As we know,
‘if you don’t use something, you eventually lose it.’
How do we overcome this inability to walk properly?
Fortunately, we have a part of our brain that is not affected by Pd.
It is the conscious part of our brain,
It resides somewhere in the frontal lobe. You can bypass the affected part, which is the subconscious part of the brain, and consciously move any part of your body. If you have to do this, in order to exercise, then that is what has to be done. It is tiring, but ,
it is the only thing you can do to overcome the problem of exercising.
Of all the PwP’s I have met, who have problems walking, there has,
not been one single person, who has not been able to walk properly,
when they concentrate on the actual movement, and not on trying to coax their legs to move on their own, as they did before they had Pd.
If you want something badly enough, and if you believe it can, and will help you, then you can do it!
Then you will find that you have regained your confidence, and other good things will naturally follow. Others will recognise this new ‘you’.
They will cease to treat you like an invalid,
even though you still have Pd!
There is one important fact that I failed to tell you. In order to know if you are achieving better results from your exercise, you MUST keep,
a record of your performance.
Keep a logbook of each walk. Whatever time period you choose to walk, you should walk away from your starting point and at exactly half-time, turn around and return to the starting point. When you turn,
make a mental note of the place where you turned,
and put it into the logbook later. Then the next time you do the walk, see if you have exceeded the place where you last turned. If not, don’t worry, we all feel different every day, and some days are better than others, and vice-versa. If you walk the same route each time, you will invariably pass the previous turning point, at half-time.
If you have recorded those turning points, and you now regularly reach those points in a lesser time, you cannot believe,
what that does for your morale.
You realise that you are getting better, or stronger.
Positive input like that is incredibly good for your confidence.
Not everybody reading this article has Parkinson’s disease. Don’t think that this advice only applies to Pd patients,
it applies to every living person.
If you do regular ‘energetic exercise’ and make a point of doing it wherever you may be, you will get enormous benefit from it as well. I have read that,
exercise reduces your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia,
as well as many other well-known age related ailments. So join in with your Pd friend/partner and
make it more enjoyable for both of you.
Many people hate exercising on their own. If you are one of these people, don’t tell yourself that you can’t walk, because you have nobody to walk with; persuade others to join you. Motivate them to want to walk for the good of their health.
Author of, ‘Reverse Parkinson’s Disease’
Giving up Work
My name is John Pepper. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992, at which time; I decided to give up my job.
Why did I feel it was necessary to give up my job?
My wife Shirley, and I, started a new printing business in 1970. That business grew very fast, going public on the Johannesburg stock exchange in 1987. By 1992, my Pd had got to the stage, where my tremors and speech problems prevented me from being able to function properly. I was unable to conduct meetings properly, or even use my keyboard. I had lost all my self-confidence and was only a shadow of my former self.
The shock of being diagnosed with Pd was the final straw that broke the camel’s back! I felt that I could no longer properly carry out my duties, as the head of a big organisation. Clients all knew there was something wrong, but neither they nor I knew how to deal with it!
I was under incredible stress. My desk was like a rubbish tip – my organisational skills had gone out of the window. Other people could not understand what I was saying – I was unable to access ordinary words and often said things that were unintelligible.
My whole world was falling apart!
There was only one solution! I had to resign! I had to do something about my health – I was still going to the gym each morning, before going to work, but this was even a nightmare, because my performance at the gym was deteriorating, noticeably. The neurologist had said that I would gradually get more and more rigid, until I would not be able to move at all.
I would become bed-ridden!
Immediately after retiring, I decided that I was just going to take things easy. I was going to make up for all those long hours I had been working, by relaxing and enjoying myself. I still went to the gym every morning, at six o’clock. After which, I came home, had breakfast and kissed Shirley goodbye, before she went to work. I then sat in my family-room, listening to my favourite classical music and reading books.
There is no prize for guessing that I soon fell asleep. I soon managed to turn day into night. I had only been sleeping for an average of less than four hours a night, for over fifteen years, and that even got worse. My daytime sleeping was even cutting down those few hours I had been sleeping at night.
My life had turned into a living HELL!
What could I possibly do about it?
If you are a Pd sufferer - you will probably know exactly how I felt. You will know what was happening to me. You will know exactly what was going through my mind, and you will understand my decision to run away from the problem! However, I had not managed to run away. It followed me, wherever I went.
After two years of, what I call, ‘Mourning’, I decided to take control of my life again!
Get hold of a copy of my latest book, ‘Reverse Parkinson’s Disease’ - which has the complete story of what I did to overcome this terrible condition, and how I got to the stage, where nobody would ever know that I have Parkinson’s disease.
If you have been diagnosed within the last two years, it is possible that you will still be able to follow my lead and start the process of reversing your Pd.
If you were diagnosed longer ago, but are still able to move fairly well, you might still be able to reverse your Pd.
If you are much further down the track and are unable to even consider doing any energetic exercise, I feel that it might be too late for you. The side effects of medication may well be irreversible. I do not know this for a fact, but my dealings with long-term patients has not yielded any real success.
Take control of your life!
Get hold of your copy of ‘Reverse Parkinson’s Disease’