Occupational and Environmental Pesticide Exposure and the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

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This literature review discusses the possible connection between pesticide exposure and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). After thorough examination of peer-reviewed and literature review articles, data revealed there is an association between the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and pesticide exposure, primarily limited to those with a history of occupational pesticide exposure. Only brief evidence of environmental pesticide exposure and risk of Alzheimer’s disease was found.

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While each article touched on the aforementioned topic, the literature also emphasized the importance for supplementary research on specific pesticide classes, as results indicated organophosphates and organochlorines pose the most significant risk in developing Alzheimer’s disease. The literature presented distinctly called to action further research on this connection primarily in female populations, as the link between pesticide exposure and risk of Alzheimer’s disease in males is more apparent. Further study on this topic may include new research examining pesticide usage in food products, as eating pesticide-altered foods is a mechanism of everyday pesticide exposure in both genders, not yet explored in literature. If this research is conducted, there is potential for change in overall pesticide usage, policies on pesticides, and possible reduction in cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

Keywords: pesticides, pesticide exposure, occupational, environmental, Alzheimer’s disease, risk factors, neurological disorders

Pesticide Exposure and the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

There is long-standing evidence that pesticides can be responsible for certain acute and chronic health effects. Although there are thousands of studies on pesticides and their link to conditions such as cancers, reproductive health, and Parkinson’s disease, data is lacking in regards to pesticide exposure and their relationship to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Current findings suggest pesticide exposure may cause the loss of neuron signaling, resulting in cognitive decline, impaired memory/attention, and motor function, all of which are common neurobehavioral symptoms of AD (Baldi et al., 2003, Parrin, Requena, Hernandez, & Alarcin, 2011). Databases such as PubMed and ScienceDirect were used to find peer-reviewed articles that applied to this topic between the years 2001 and 2014. Mesh headings included risk of AD, risk factors for AD, occupational pesticide exposure, and environmental pesticide exposure. The majority of literature that surfaced pertaining to pesticide exposure and its association with increased risk of AD consisted of cohort, case-control, and ecological studies, with a focus on populations where occupational or environmental mechanisms were the origins of exposure. This paper discusses the current evidence on the association between daily occupational and environmental pesticide exposure and the risk of developing AD by examining five peer-reviewed articles and one literature review. The presented literature highlights how risk of AD may differ between occupational and environmental pesticide exposures, specific types of pesticides and possible elevated risks of AD, as well as explanations representing the lack of data on pesticide exposure and risk of AD in female populations.

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