Parkinson's disease and exposure to agricultural work and pesticide chemicals

This population-based case-control study of 130 Calgary residents with neurologist-confirmed idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) and 260 randomly selected age- and sex-matched community controls attempted to determine whether agricultural work or the occupational use of pesticide chemicals is associated with an increased risk for PD.

We obtained by personal interviews lifetime occupational histories, including chemical exposure data, and analyzed the data using conditional logistic regression for matched sets. In the univariate analysis, a history of field crop farming, grain farming, herbicide use, or insecticide use resulted in a significantly increased crude estimate of the PD risk, and the data suggested a dose-response relation between the PD risk and the cumulative lifetime exposure to field crop farming and to grain farming.

However, in the multivariate analysis, which controlled for potential confounding or interaction between the exposure variables, previous occupational herbicide use was consistently the only significant predictor of PD risk. These results support the hypothesis that the occupational use of herbicides is associated with an increased risk for PD.

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