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J Neurol Sci. 2007 Nov 15;262(1-2):37-44. Epub 2007 Jul 27.

Epidemiologic studies of environmental exposures in Parkinson's disease.

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Inserm, U708, Neuroepidemiology, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, Paris, France.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most common cause of the parkinsonian syndromes and the most frequent neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease. Because of the ageing of Western populations, an increasing number of persons will be affected with PD in the future and neither curative treatments nor preventive measures have been identified. PD is considered as a multifactorial disease, resulting from the effect of environmental factors and genetic susceptibility. Increasing age and male sex appear to be associated with an increased risk of PD. In addition, recent epidemiological studies have identified environmental exposures that influence the risk of PD. This review provides an overview of the epidemiologic evidence for environmental etiologies in PD; we will focus on two environmental exposures that have been quite consistently associated with PD -- cigarette smoking and pesticide exposure -- and will summarize briefly the findings for other exposures. Understanding the mechanisms underlying these epidemiological associations is an essential step for the understanding of the etiology of this neurodegenerative condition and, ideally, to develop neuroprotective drugs.

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