Parkinson’s disease and exposure to Pesticides eInterview with Dr. Emanuele Cereda

Nutrition and Dietetics Service, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo
Viale Golgi 19, 27100 Pavia, Italy What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Cereda: A large analysis of more than 100 studies shows that exposure to pesticides, or bug and weed killers, and solvents is likely associated with a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Cereda: In first instance I can say no as in every day clinical practice we frequently see patients reporting such exposure. Accordingly, it appears quite obvious to look at these exposures as risk factors. Unfortunately, from an epidemiologic point of view this is not enough! That’s why we did this study. Amazing rather than surprising was the fact that commonly the sources of funding in the studies we retrieved and included in meta-analysis were health or health-related institutions, private foundations (mainly Parkinosn’s disease foundations), or government or para-government companies. No study acknowledged the involvement of any chemicals manufacturer! What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Cereda:  As exposure to pesticides and solvents may be not only a risk factor for the development of Parkinson’s disease but it appears also a modifier of its progression, clinicians should not only induce  patients to avoid further exposure to these compounds, but also be aware that treatments could be less effective than expected. Nonetheless, looking at health policies, the use of protective equipment and compliance with suggested, or even recommended, preventive practices should be emphasized in high-risk working categories. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Cereda: To collect data on a cause-effect relationship, the best way to continue in this field of search is to design other prospective cohort studies but using a high-quality method for the assessment of exposure in order to be certain that exposure had really taken place. Unfortunately, in the case of prospective studies, given the frequency of exposure, the crude incidence of Parkinson’s disease and the mean age at onset, large cohort should be recruited and long follow-up (up to 20-30 years!) should be considered.


Exposure to pesticides or solvents and risk of Parkinson disease.Pezzoli G, Cereda E.
Neurology. 2013 May 28;80(22):2035-41. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318294b3c8.
PMID:23713084 [PubMed – in process]


Last Updated on May 29, 2013 by Marie Benz MD FAAD