Environmental toxins could be one driver behind a marked increase in Parkinson’s disease diagnoses, according to a new study published in the December 15, 2022 issue of NPJ Parkinson’s Disease. Authors of the study highlighted epidemiological data showing that the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease diagnoses in North America was greater than had been previously reported.
Past estimates for new cases of Parkinson’s disease diagnoses each year totaled 60,000. The new study’s estimate surpassed this figure by 50%, with around 90,000 new Parkinson’s cases diagnosed in the United States each year.
The study gathered data on 6.7 million people ages 45 and over, plus 9.3 million people ages 65 and older.
The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) states that prevalence of Parkinson’s in the U.S. is important to know so that public health officials can plan for the growth.
However, an equally critical question is why we are seeing such a high incidence of these diagnoses. Only when armed with this information can lawmakers move strategically to cap the source of the disease.
The new study identifies several possible explanations for the concerning increase, including exposure to environmental toxins, which increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s. “One such chemical is paraquat, an herbicide,” the APDA website states. “Currently, there are efforts to advocate for a ban on paraquat in the US.”
As of December 15, 2022, more than 2,352 Paraquat lawsuits are pending in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) (Paraquat Products Liability Litigation Case No. 3:21-MD-3004-NJR) in the Southern District of Illinois United States District Court. The lawsuits claim that using the Paraquat herbicide caused claimants’ Parkinson’s disease. The claimants seek to recover damages, including medical costs, lost income, and others via Paraquat settlements or verdicts.
National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act
In September 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act. The bipartisan bill aims “to unite the federal government in a mission to cure and prevent Parkinson’s, alleviate financial and health burdens on American families, and reduce government spending over time, according to the Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) website. Moore and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced the bill.
“…Parkinson’s takes a terrible toll on the physical, mental, emotional, and economic well-being of everyone involved,” Capito said.
An advisory council stemming from the National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act would devote their efforts to curing and preventing the disease, as well as work to reduce the financial impact of Parkinson’s on patients and the federal government.
The council would also craft a national plan for the prevention and cure of the disease.