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Daily News Blog

15
May

Glyphosate in Roundup Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2020) New research out of Japan’s Chiba University suggests that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the most commonly used pesticide worldwide (Roundup), may be a risk factor in the development of Parkinson’s Disease. The ubiquity of glyphosate use in agriculture — which leaves residues of the toxic chemical in food — may mean that exposures to it represent a significant risk factor for the disease. Glyphosate is already implicated or proved in the development of numerous health anomalies, including cancer. Beyond Pesticides recognizes that pesticides play a variety of roles in causing or exacerbating negative health outcomes, including Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Transitioning pest management — in agriculture, land management, and household and personal care contexts — to nontoxic and organic approaches is the critical step away from bathing humans and the Earth in harmful chemicals.

The researchers in this subject study, out of the Chiba University Center for Forensic Mental Health’s Division of Clinical Neuroscience, sought to investigate whether exposures to glyphosate could impact dopaminergic neurotoxicity in the brains of mice. They found that exposures to glyphosate in adult mice intensified a type of neurotoxicity associated with PD. [The abstract for the research paper, titled “Glyphosate exposure exacerbates the dopaminergic neurotoxicity in the mouse brain after repeated administration of MTPT,” is available online; once published, the paper will be available through Science Direct.]

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive and neurodegenerative brain disease that impacts motor function; it manifests primarily in symptoms such as trembling, loss of muscle control, stiffness, and poor coordination. These may be intermittent, especially in early stages of the disease, and typically intensify over time. PD can also cause cognitive changes and decline, constipation, poor sleep, fatigue, anxiety and/or depression, sexual dysfunction, paresthesias, and other impacts. Approximately one million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s Disease, with 50,000–60,000 new diagnoses annually; globally, 7–10 million people live with PD. The disease affects 50% more men than women.

PD occurs when dopamine production and transport are compromised; dopamine is a primary neurotransmitter (though not the only one) mediating motor function. The disease ensues when dopaminergic nerve cells (i.e., those activated by or sensitive to dopamine) in a region of the brain called the substantia nigra, or SNr, are damaged or destroyed and can no longer produce dopamine. The SNr is a motor nucleus located in the midbrain, whereas another brain structure relevant to the study’s findings — the striatum — is part of the basal ganglia. Some neurons from the SNr terminate in the striatum, which also plays a role in voluntary movement.

What causes the damage or destruction of the dopaminergic cells is still unknown, but there is evidence that (especially chronic) pesticide exposures may be at work. Both the herbicide paraquat and the pesticide rotenone have been identified as involved in the pathology of the disease. According to a 2018 research paper, “Estimated Residential Exposure to Agricultural Chemicals and Premature Mortality by Parkinson’s Disease,” people exposed to glyphosate have a 33% greater risk of premature mortality from Parkinson’s.

In experimental research on PD, exposures to neurotoxicants have repeatedly produced neuronal death, in both in vitro and in vivo systems. (Many such studies have used 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine [MPTP] because it reliably induces dopaminergic neurotoxicity.) The team administered, to four groups of adult male mice, “drinking water” that was variously treated: (1) water with only saline added, (2) water with glyphosate plus saline, (3) water with MPTP, and (4) water with glyphosate and MPTP, for 14 days. The brains were then evaluated immunohistochemically.

The researchers found that the exposures to glyphosate exacerbated the reduction of DAT (dopamine transporter) immunoreactivity in the striatum, and the reduction of TH (tyrosine hydroxylase) positive cells in the SNr after MPTP administration. Translation: the exposure to glyphosate appears both to worsen the ability of local neurons (in the SNr and striatum) to produce and transport dopamine effectively, and to intensify the neurotoxicity of other extrinsic chemicals (in this case, MPTP).

Based on this experiment, the research paper concludes, “Given the widespread and growing use of glyphosate in the world, it is likely that glyphosate exposure may increase [the] risk of the onset of PD later in life . . . . and may be an environmental risk factor for PD . . . although further study is needed. . . . Therefore we must pay attention to glyphosate exposure in adults.” Why the authors did not advocate “paying attention” to these exposures across the lifespan is puzzling, given that chronicity of exposure may build risk over time.

People are exposed to glyphosate directly, through handling and application; and indirectly, through residue in food or contamination of drinking water. So widespread is its use that exposure to it is nearly unavoidable in the U.S. Rural and vocational experiences seem to present particular risks: occupational pesticide exposure, farming, well water consumption, and residential pesticide use have all been linked to elevated rates of Parkinson’s Disease. The concerns about glyphosate exposure and health outcomes, whether PD, NHL (Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma), or other anomalies, are especially acute for those who encounter glyphosate regularly, typically through work and work sites.

In September, 2019, sixteen organizations representing health, environmental, farmer, and farmworker communities joined together to call on EPA to remove glyphosate from the marketplace. The groups cite a combination of high-profile lawsuits, environmental impacts, increasing reports of weed resistance, and growing public concern over the health effects of glyphosate in their comments on EPA’s interim reregistration review decision for the chemical. This new data adds to the heightened level of public health concern associated with glyphosate (Roundup) use.

Avoidance of exposure to glyphosate is best achieved in several ways: consuming organic food as much as practicable; avoiding use glyphosate products in home gardens or on lawns; paying attention to water quality reporting for local water supplies; encouraging farmworker protections; and advocating with supermarkets, garden centers and hardware stores, farmers, golf courses, school districts, and local and state decision makers for nontoxic, organic land management and agriculture. Follow Beyond Pesticides coverage of glyphosate through the Daily News Blog and the journal, Pesticides and You, and become a supporting member of an organization dedicated to information on pesticides, and advocacy on moving to less- and nontoxic practices for a safer world.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304394020303025

 

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One Response to “Glyphosate in Roundup Linked to Parkinson’s Disease”

  1. 1
    Rebecca Nichols Says:

    My husband has Parkinson’s and he has used round up every summer for 30 years

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