First it was Alzheimer’s, now it’s Parkinson’s: in the past seven days, pesticides have been discovered to be a cause of these debilitating diseases. Latest research shows that the toxins can increase the chances of developing Parkinson’s by up to six times in people who are especially susceptible.

One pesticide, benomyl, has already been found to be a cause of Parkinson’s, but new research at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) has identified 11 others that can cause the disease.

The toxins inhibit the enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which affect dopamine cells that are linked to the development of Parkinson’s.

People who have the common variant of the ALDH2 gene are more likely to be affected by the pesticides, and their risk of developing the disease can be between two to six times greater.

Most worryingly, the researchers found that the pesticides affected ALDH enzymes at very low levels, and far lower than current safety standards allow.Although benomyl has been banned, the other 11 identified by UCLA researchers are still in everyday use, and can be found on the foods we buy, and in parks and golf courses, as well as pest control agents in offices and homes.

(Source: Neurology, 2014; 82: 419)