Strange Fruit? Researcher says pesticides may increase Parkinson’s risk

Researchers in Honolulu have found a correlation between high fruit and fruit drink consumption and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Findings of their study are being presented at this year’s American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting. The study is a longitudinal design, in which risk factor data was collected before onset of Parkinson’s among more than 8,000 study subjects. Incidence of Parkinson’s cases was noted over 34 years of observation.

Results of the study show that increased fruit and fruit drink consumption predicted an increased Parkinson’s risk, after adjusting for other known risk factors. High dietary and supplemental intake of vitamin C did not appear to be associated with risk of Parkinson’s.

“We speculate that this increased risk may be due to plant borne toxins, pesticides or herbicides, rather than the fruit itself,” notes study author Andrew Grandinetti, PhD. “High fruit intake is still an important protective factor against many chronic diseases. However, these findings suggest that further research into the role of food borne toxins may provide clarity as well as insight into the [cause] and prevention of Parkinson’s.”

Organically grown produce, on which no chemical herbicides or pesticides are allowed to be used, are increasingly available in natural foods and nutrition stores across the country. Other recent studies on organic foods indicate they contain higher levels of some nutrients and offer more protective compounds than produce grown using traditional methods, including pesticides.

American Academy of Neurology, April 2, 2003