Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative, age-related disease that affects a part of your brain called the Substantia Nigra. The Substantia Nigra is a part of the Basal Ganglia which is the section of the brain that is responsible for motor control, executive functions, and emotions.
Worldwide over 8 million people are living with PD. Harvard Heath has identified certain risk factors that may increase risk of Parkinson’s Disease:
- Sex: Men are 1.5 times more likely to have PD than women.
- Age: The risk of PD increases with age, although some people are diagnosed with early-onset PD before the age of 50.
- Genetics: Most cases occur in patients with no familial link to PD, but some have an inheritance pattern involving certain altered genes that could increase the risk of developing PD.
- Exposure to toxins: Studies have shown a link between exposure to chemicals used in pesticides and herbicides—as well as metals and organic pollutants—and Parkinson’s disease.
- Head injury: Repeated blows to the head can increase one’s risk of developing PD; however, it doesn’t guarantee a diagnosis.
While the precise cause of Parkinson’s has yet to be found, there is overwhelming evidence of a tie to genetic and/or environmental factors.
How veterans are at a greater risk for PD
Exposure to toxic substances such as herbicides, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals have shown an increase in PD diagnoses. In June of 2019, the National Institute of Heath published an article titled Early and Accurate Identification of Parkinson Disease Among US Veterans stating, “Perhaps the most commonly recognized is pesticide exposure, particularly given the presumptive service connections established by the VA for Parkinson Disease and exposure to Agent Orange or contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Both dioxin, the toxic ingredient in Agent Orange, and the solvents trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene, found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, interfere with mitochondrial function leading oxidative stress and apoptosis of nigrostriatal neurons.” (Mantri, 2019)
In addition to the National Institute of Health publication, the Agency for Toxic Disease Registry (ATSDR) has identified an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease in veterans who were exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune.
Veterans who are treated with antidepressants for injuries such as PTSD may be at a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease or Parkinsonism due to Drug-Induced Parkinsonism (DIP). “DIP is usually caused by blockade of postsynaptic dopamine receptors by antipsychotic medications.” (Mantri, 2019)
Why choose the Nations Law Firm
The Nations Law Firm is honored to fight for our Veterans who served at Marine Base Camp Lejeune, and for all those injured by its contaminated water supply. To read more about the different illnesses and chemicals that contaminated the water on base and their connection to serious health problems, please visit our Camp Lejeune page or call our office at 800-800-1102.
Mantri, S. D. (2019). Early and Accurate Identification of Parkinson Disease Among US Veterans. Federal practitioner : for the health care professionals of the VA, DoD, and PHS, 36(Suppl 4), S18–S23.