SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — By 2020, nearly one million people in the U.S. will be living with Parkinson’s Disease, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. That’s more than those who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and ALS combined.
To find a cause to the increase in diagnosis of the disease, Dr. Frank Middleton, an Upstate Medical associate professor of neuroscience and physiology and a principal Parkinson’s researcher, has dedicated his studies to the detection of the disease in its earliest stage.
From a simple saliva swab, Middleton is able to access the “informative micro-environment” of Parkinson’s Disease. His research was put on display at the seventh annual, “Living an Active Life with Parkinson’s Disease” conference.
Middleton’s results were explained to over 250 guests at the annual event. Although no diagnoses are the same, Middleton was able to link Parkinson’s to two common chemicals used as pesticides: rotenone and paraquat, which is used in the treatment of plants and lakes. “The evidence shows that if you take a wide variety of different pesticides, it’s all showing the same consequence that they can produce Parkinson’s Disease” said Dr. Middleton.
Exposure to pesticides not only increases the risk of Parkinson’s Disease, but it can cause inflammation in the body as well. To begin the conference, guests danced, did yoga, and side-stepped all in their chairs. Some participants boxed on stage, to improve blood flow. To reduce inflammation Dr. Middleton promotes movement, “You can increase your activity levels. Your cells are going to be healthier, you’ll reduce inflammation in the joints.”
Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include tremors, small handwriting, loss of smell, trouble sleeping, dizziness or fainting. About 60,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year in the U.S., according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.