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Environmental Risk Factors And Parkinson's Disease

H. H. Liou, M. C. Tsai, C. J. Chen, J. S. Jeng, Y. C. Chang, S. Y. Chen, R. C. Chen

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To explore environmental risk factors for Parkinson's disease (PD) in Taiwan, we investigated 120 patients with PD and 240 hospital control subjects matched with patients on age (± 2 years) and sex. Based on a structured open-ended questionnaire, we carried out standardized interviews to obtain history of exposure to environmental factors, including place of residence, source of drinking water, and environmental and occupational exposures to various agricultural chemicals. In the univariate analysis, the history of living in a rural environment, farming, use of herbicides/pesticides, and use of paraquat were associated with an increased PD risk in a dose-response relationship. After adjustment for multiple risk factors through conditional logistic regression, the biological gradient between PD and previous uses of herbicidesipesticides and paraquat remained significant. The PD risk was greater among subjects who had used paraquat and other herbicide/pesticides than those who had used herbicides/pesticides other than paraquat. There were no significant differences in occupational exposures to chemicals, heavy metals, and minerals between PD patients and matched control subjects. The duration of drinking well water and alcohol consumption was not significantly associated with PD. There was an inverse relationship between cigarette smoking and PD. Environmental factors, especially exposures to paraquat and herbicides/pesticides, may play important roles in the development of PD in Taiwan.