A new book by four prominent neurology experts has raised a troubling question: are toxic chemicals in our environment causing people to suffer from Parkinson's disease (PD)? Most people think of PD as that disorder that old people get wherein their heads shake uncontrollably. In fact, this terrible disease
causes such problems as insomnia, depression, and cognitive decline. These symptoms are in addition to the better-known ones, such as tremors and loss of muscle coordination.
A Strong Correlation
In their book "Ending Parkinson's Disease," the four authors note that exposure to certain chemicals has been shown to cause PD-like symptoms in test rats in laboratories. While this is not conclusive proof, the scientists did find a strong correlation between exposure to certain chemicals and PD. It is troubling that the chemicals at issue are not some exotic substances that only a few people would ever encounter. Rather, these are found in such common-place products as insecticides. One of the chemicals, TCE has been found in the drinking water of 30% of all Americans.
More data suggests that chemicals are at fault. For example, a study of 17,000 twin brothers showed that environmental factors were more important than genetics in determining who developed PD. The Netherlands banned two suspect chemicals, TCE and Paraquat. In the following years, the number
of people getting PD in that country declined. Also, the increase in the number of PD cases in China went up 116% in the past quarter-century, a time when increasing numbers of Chinese worked in factories.
Whatever The Cause, A Dramatic Rise In Cases
While the numbers do not in themselves prove anything, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who get PD. For example, between 1990 and 2015, the number of PD cases worldwide doubled. Projections show that the incidence of PD will likely double again by 2040. I am not a scientist, but this sure suggests that something is happening.
(Note that this is not the first alternative explanation for PD. I wrote about a bowel-brain link earlier.)
Implications For Social Security Disability
This has serious implications for Social Security disability. PD is among the leading neurological disorders that cause people to stop working. If we are causing a dramatic rise in cases with the chemicals in our environment, this could increase the number of Americans who need to apply for Social Security disability.
If you are concerned about this, consider contacting your members of Congress. In 2017 the Trump administration indefinitely postponed banning TCE and other chemicals linked to PD. We can only hope that the Biden administration will reverse this terrible policy.
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