Thursday May 23, 2024

Over 8.5m people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease

April 14, 2024
This representational image shows a Parkinsons patient on a wheelchair. — AFP/File
This representational image shows a Parkinson's patient on a wheelchair. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: More than 8.5 million people worldwide have Parkinson's disease, a condition affecting the nervous system that causes movement issues such as tremors stiffened limbs and cognitive problems.

Doctors still do not understand why Parkinson's occurs. However the disease has been linked to low levels of dopamine and nor epinephrine in the body. Additionally people with certain risk factors such as age and past traumatic brain injury are more likely to develop the condition.

Additionally researchers believe exposure to certain toxins such as pesticides and air pollution.

Now researchers from the University of Rochester are adding additional evidence by finding a link between Parkinson s disease and a commonly used chemical called trichloroethylene (TCE). The study appears in the Journal of Parkinson s Disease. TCE is a colorless liquid chemical that does not occur in nature. It is known to have a chloroform like odor.

This chemical may be found in a variety of products and industries including commercial dry cleaning metal degreasing cleaning wipes stain removers for clothing and carpeting lubricants spray adhesives.

People can become exposed to TCE by using a product containing TCE or working in a factory where the chemical is present.

Additionally TCE can leach into the water air and soil around where it is used or disposed of contaminating what we breathe eat and drink. Symptoms of exposure to high amounts of TCE include dizziness, headaches, confusion, nausea, facial numbness.

Previous studies link prolonged exposure to TCE to increased risk for kidney cancer liver cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma .

Dr Ray Dorsey, a professor of neurology at the University of Rochester and lead author of this study, said he and his team decided to research a link between TCE and Parkinson s disease while preparing to write his book Ending Parkinson s Disease.

One of my colleagues and co-authors of this paper Dr. Caroline Tanner told me about TCE and Camp Lejeune Dr. Dorsey told Medical News Today. She and her colleague Dr. Sam Goldman another (study) co-author had conducted a twin study showing that twins with an occupational or hobby exposure to TCE had a 500% increased risk of Parkinson s disease. The more I investigated the prevalence of TCE and its role in Parkinson s disease the more I (found) with no end in sight.

He added TCE is a known carcinogen it causes cancer. It is also linked to miscarriages neural tube defects (including babies born without brains) congenital heart disease and multiple other medical disorders. It also has been around for 100 years and its toxicity has been known for at least 90.

For this study Dr Dorsey and his team conducted a literature review. They compiled seven case studies of individuals who developed Parkinson s disease after exposure to the chemical from either the workplace or the environment.

The case studies include NBA player Brian Grant who received a Parkinson s diagnosis at the age of 36. According to researchers he was likely exposed to TCE as a child when his father was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

The camp s water supply systems were found to be contaminated with TCE in the early 1980s.

The researchers also profiled a Navy captain who had served at Camp Lejeune and was diagnosed with Parkinson s 30 years after.

And the research team also spotlighted the late United States Senator Johnny Isakson who served in the Georgia Air National Guard which used TCE to degrease airplanes. Senator Isakson was diagnosed with Parkinson s disease in 2015.

Currently the world s literature on trichloroethylene and Parkinson s disease is limited to 26 studies based on a search on PubMed Dr. Dorsey said. Given the widespread use and pollution with TCE and perchloroethylene (PCE) widely used in dry cleaning and the rise of Parkinson s disease more research is needed. We call for that.

The seven individuals add to the existing literature the largest previous case series was three and demonstrate the myriad of ways that individuals can be exposed to the chemical via work or the environment he added. Importantly most are unaware because they never knew about the exposure and it occurred decades ago.