AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Pesticide Found in Milk Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

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According to a study published in the journal Neurology, a pesticide used prior to the 1980s, which was found in milk at that time, may be associated with signs of Parkinson’s disease. “The link between dairy products and Parkinson’s disease has been found in other studies,” said this study’s lead author. “Our study looked specifically at milk and the signs of Parkinson’s in the brain.” During the the study, 449 Japanese-American men with an average age of 54 were followed for more than 30 years and until death, after which autopsies were performed. Tests looked at whether participants had lost brain cells in the substantia nigra area of the brain, which occurs in Parkinson’s disease and can start decades before any symptoms begin. Researchers also measured the amount of residue left from a pesticide called heptachlor epoxide in 116 brains. The pesticide was found at very high levels in the milk supply in the early 1980s in Hawaii, where it was used in the pineapple industry. It was used to kill insects and was removed from use in the U.S. around that time. The pesticide may also be found in well water. The study found that those who drank more than two cups of milk per day had 40-percent fewer brain cells in that area of the brain than people who drank less than two cups of milk per day. Residues of heptachlor epoxide were found in 90 percent of people who drank the most milk, compared to 63 percent of those who did not drink any milk. Researchers noted they do not have evidence that the actual milk participants drank contained heptachlor epoxide. He also stated that the study does not show that the pesticide or milk intake cause Parkinson’s disease; only a correlation. To read more about this study, click here.

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