The results from a study looking at the possible links between exposure to environmental toxins (found in pesticides) and motor neurone disease (MND) was published yesterday (9 May) in the journal JAMA Neurology.
A group of researchers from the University of Michigan, led by Dr Feng-Chiao Su and Dr Eva Feldman, have found that exposure to pesticides is associated with an increased risk of developing MND.
What did the study involve?
156 people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, a type of MND) and 129 healthy ‘control’ participants from Michigan, USA completed questionnaires on their occupation history, gave blood samples, or did both.
The questionnaire asked about their occupations over four windows of time; at any point during their life, in the last 10 years, in the last 10-30 years, and over 30 years ago. From their answers, the researchers worked out the likelihood of each participant’s exposure to pesticides.
The levels of 122 persistent environmental pollutants (including organochlorine pesticides or OCPs) were tested for in blood samples taken from participants.
Persistent environmental pollutants are those with a long half-life, meaning that they break down slowly. This meant that they could be tested for in the blood, even if exposure happened several years ago. However, the blood sample cannot tell us the source of the pollutants, such as if it was through work, at home or even from eating fruit and vegetables that had been sprayed with pesticides. Continue reading