Parkinson’s disease is increasing at an alarming rate

    Parkinson’s disease has increased at an alarming rate and is now the second-most common neurodegenerative disease, after Alzheimer’s.

    As it has becomes more common, so does the number of people who develop the symptoms, get diagnosed and begin their journey. However, the big question that many are wondering about is whether or not there are environmental factors that could lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease.

    What is Parkinson’s disease?

    Parkinsons is caused due to the loss of nerve cells in the brain. (Image via Pexels/Anna Shevts)

    Parkinson’s disease is a condition that affects how you move and is caused by the loss of nerve cells in the brain. These cells usually produce dopamine, which helps control body movements.

    When that happens, you may have trouble with balance, movement and muscle control, which can cause shaking or tremors in different parts of the body. You might also experience changes in your mood or behavior.

    Depression is common among people with Parkinson’s disease, as they often feel like they have no control over their lives anymore.

    Why are environmental toxins to blame for increase in cases?

    Environmental toxins can kills the brain neurons. (Image via Pexels / Laura Arias)

    It’s not just one chemical or substance that can increase your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. It could be a combination of several chemicals and other factors like genetics and lifestyle choices.

    Some examples of environmental toxins that have been linked to PD include:

    • Dioxins (chemicals found in pesticides)
    • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
    • Arsenic (found in drinking water)

    There are also chemicals, like mercury and tetrachloroethylene (TRI), that have been studied for their potential link to PD but have not yet been proven to cause the disease.

    Research has shown that people who work with certain pesticides have a greater risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases. Herbicides are linked to Parkinson’s, as they kill neurons in the brain’s substantia nigra, which is associated with its development.

    Paraquat is an herbicide that’s poisonous to humans apart from being linked to increased Parkinson’s risk.

    How can we reduce exposure to these chemicals?

    Washing fruits/vegetables and eating local produce can reduce these toxins. (image via pexels / anna shvets)
    • Reduce your exposure to pesticides by buying organic, local foods and buying in bulk.
    • Wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
    • Use a filter on your tap water (that’s especially important if you live near a city or industrial area).
    • Use a HEPA filter in your home to remove dust particles from the air that may contain chemicals that could cause Parkinson’s disease or other health problems.
    • When possible, opt for glass containers instead of plastic ones, as they do not contain BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical that has been linked to many health problems.

    Link between Parkinson’s disease and pesticide

    Combination of genetic and environmental factors. (Image via Pexels/Berndt Akesson)

    There’s a growing body of research that suggests a link between environmental toxins and Parkinson’s disease. Exposure to certain environmental toxins, like pesticides, solvents, metals and other pollutants, has been found to increase risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

    The interactions between genetics and the environment can be quite complex, but most experts agree that it’s caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some environmental exposures may lower risk of Parkinsons, while others may increase it.

    The Braak hypothesis proposes that in Parkinson’s disease, a pathologic agent may penetrate the nervous system via the olfactory bulb, gut or both and spreads throughout the nervous system.

    The agent is unknown, but several environmental exposures have been associated with this progressive disorder.

    While we often associate neurological conditions with the elderly, Parkinson’s can strike at any age and in younger people, too.

    Additionally, there’s no one single cause of Parkinson’s, which is actually a group of diseases linked to several possible underlying genetic and environmental factors. Currently, there’s no cure, but there are treatments that work well in many people as long as they’re caught early enough.

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