The One Show: Michael J. Fox on hopes to find Parkinsons cure
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Researchers say the industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) has had numerous uses in the past. TCE has been used to decaffeinate coffees, it’s been used in cleaning wipes, aerosol cleaning products, tool cleaners, paint removers, and spray adhesives. While the chemical has been banned by the food and pharmaceutical industries since the 1970s, evidence suggests it can take up to 40 years from exposure to develop into an illness.
Public Health England (PHE) noted TCE is still used in metal cleaning, degreasing, and as an extraction solvent in the textile manufacturing industry.
Dr Ray Dorsey, of the University of Rochester, New York, said: “For more than a century TCE has threatened workers.
“[TCE has] polluted the air we breathe – outside and inside – and contaminated the water we drink. Global use is waxing, not waning.”
A global study, back in 2013, found that TCE exposure increased the risk of Parkinson’s disease sixfold.
Dr Dorsey and colleagues say the toxic chemical may be fuelling rising numbers of Parkinson’s disease cases across the world.
His research details seven case studies whereby exposure to TCE was connected to the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Now they are hoping to better understand how TCE could lead to Parkinson’s disease.
They argue that TCE levels in groundwater, drinking water, soil, and outdoor and indoor air require closer monitoring.
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Not only that, the research team wants this information to be shared to those who live and work near polluted sites.
The NHS says: “Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra.”
These nerve cells create dopamine, which acts as a messenger between parts of the brain and the nervous system.
Without an adequate supply of dopamine, movements become slow and abnormal.
The symptoms of the condition develop gradually over time, with three of the main symptoms being tremor, bradykinesia, and rigidity.
Going into detail about each of these warning signs of Parkinson’s disease is the national health service.
Tremors, for instance, is a “shaking, which usually begins in the hand or arm and is more likely to occur when the limb is relaxed and resting”.
As for bradykinesia, this is when “physical movements are much slower than normal”.
Slowness of movement “can make everyday tasks difficult and result in a distinctive slow, shuffling walk with very small steps”.
Rigidity refers to “stiffness and tension in the muscles, which can make it difficult to move around”.
In addition to difficulty with mobility, rigidity can also lead to reduced facial expression and painful muscle cramps.
Dr Ray Dorsey and his colleagues’ study is in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.
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