Study: Parkinson’s disease may be caused by common dry-cleaning chemical

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a condition that affects the nervous system and causes tremors, stiffened limbs and cognitive problems. PD affects over 8.5 million people worldwide.

Researchers have found that PD is linked to low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the body. Risk factors for PD include past traumatic brain injury and exposure to certain toxins such as pesticides and air pollution. Now, new research from the University of Rochester is pointing to a link between PD and a commonly used chemical called trichloroethylene (TCE).

TCE is a colourless liquid chemical found in a variety of products and industries, including:

  • commercial dry cleaning
  • metal degreasing
  • cleaning wipes
  • stain removers for clothing and carpeting
  • lubricants
  • spray adhesives

“TCE is a known carcinogen- it causes cancer. It is also linked to miscarriages, neural tube defects (including babies born without brains) and congenital heart disease, and multiple other medical disorders. It also has been around for 100 years and its toxicity has been known for at least 90,” says Dr. Ray Dorsey, professor of neurology at the University of Rochester and lead author of this study. He and his team decided to research the link between TCE and Parkinson’s disease while preparing to write his book, Ending Parkinson’s Disease.

“One of my colleagues and co-authors of this paper, Dr. Caroline Tanner, told me about TCE and Camp Lejeune,” Dr. Dorsey explains. “She and her colleague, . Dr. Sam Goldman had conducted a twin study showing that twins with an occupational or hobby exposure to TCE had a 500% increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. The more I investigated the prevalence of TCE and its role in Parkinson’s disease, the more I (found) with no end in sight.”

People can become exposed to TCE by using a product containing TCE or working in a factory where the chemical is present. This chemical can leach into the water, air and soil around where it is used or disposed of, contaminating what we breathe, eat, and drink.

Click here to read more about environmental chemicals and brain disorders in children. Click here to read more about how to protect your brain and memory.


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