This medical video looks into how your environment could effect Parkinson's disease.
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Jennifer Mathews: Phan has battled Parkinson's disease his entire adult life. It has slowed his speech and partially paralyzed his limbs. Recent studies show environmental toxins are one likely cause of Parkinson's, toxins that includes household pesticides like the weed killer paraquat. Dr. J. William Langston: There are specific pesticides such as paraquat that have been widely used in the environment that have been shown to induce some of the changes in the brain of experimental animals that are similar to Parkinson's. Another one called rotenone reproduces many of the aspects of Parkinson's Disease in laboratory animals. Jennifer Mathews: Rotenone has been used in more than 6000 over-the-counter products in the US. Dr. J. William Langston: It's in the roots of plants and has been widely used for centuries to kill fish in ponds. Jennifer Mathews: Other research shows exposure to heavy metals also raises the risk of Parkinson's. In one study, workers exposed to lead, copper and iron together had a greater risk of Parkinson's than when exposed to any metal alone. While there's no smoking gun yet, answers are coming. In California, a bill recently passed to start a Parkinson's disease registry. Dr. J. William Langston: This will allow us to track all of the cases in a geographically defined area that is California, and I think this will greatly aid our research for the cause. Jennifer Mathews: With both funding and research plunging ahead, scientists are one step closer to understanding the environment's role in this devastating disease. This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.