Rates of Parkinson’s disease are exploding. A common chemical may be to blame | Parkinson's disease | The Guardian - Deepstash
Tracking the seemingly harmless cause

Most cases of Parkinson’s disease are considered idiopathic, i.e. they lack a clear cause. Yet researchers increasingly believe that one factor is environmental exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE).

It's a chemical compound used in industrial degreasing, dry-cleaning and household products such as some shoe polishes and carpet cleaners.

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The research speaks for itself

The clearest evidence around the risk of TCE is around workers who are exposed to the chemical in the work-place.

  1. A 2008 peer-reviewed study in the Annals of Neurology, for example, found that TCE is “a risk factor for parkinsonism.”
  2. And a 2011 study echoed those results, finding “a six-fold increase in the risk of developing Parkinson’s in individuals exposed in the workplace to trichloroethylene (TCE).”

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What is TCE, anyway?

TCE is a carcinogen linked to renal cell carcinoma, cancers of the cervix, liver, biliary passages, lymphatic system and male breast tissue, and fetal cardiac defects, among other effects.

Its known relationship to Parkinson’s may be overlooked due to the fact that exposure to TCE can predate the disease’s onset by decades. While some people exposed may sicken quickly, others may unknowingly work or live on contaminated sites for most of their lives before developing symptoms of Parkinson’s.

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Government intervention and public awareness could be the solution

Policy and effective government intervention are crucial when it comes to testing, monitoring and remediating TCE contaminated sites, and that it’s important to raise awareness of TCE’s role in surging rates of Parkinson’s.

Failure to address the issue will continue to negatively affect people’s health, as Parkinson’s is characterized by slow, progressive degeneration and has no cure.

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