Does playing golf increase your risk for Parkinson's?

Volume 13    |   Issue 29

Do you like to play golf? Do you like it so much that you live on a golf course? If so, here's something you ought to know.

In a letter recently published in The Annals of Neurology, neurologists Margaret Parrish and Robert Gardner suggest a link between Parkinson's disease and golf. They were studying a group of 26 patients with Parkinson's when they noticed that 19 of them lived on or within two miles of a golf course.

Of course, it could be completely coincidental. It's much more likely that golf courses are going to be in communities favored by senior citizens than the younger crew. But the data suggests that there's more than coincidence here. "Sixteen of the 19 patients resided down-wind of a golf course," the researchers noted. Of the other three patients with Parkinson's, living up-wind of a golf course, two of them had "additional golf course exposure." So is it time to move and take up tennis? Take a look at this.

Another recent study by neurologists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis showed an alarming increase in Parkinson's associated with welding. These researchers found that 15.6% of 811 shipyard welders in the study developed Parkinson's disorder, compared with none in a group of 59 workers from the same area who had no welding exposure. Just so you understand how significant this is, the incidence of Parkinson's disorder in the general population is only 0.4%. So that's almost 40 times the risk if you weld. Why? The toxin responsible is manganese. Manganese is a heavy metal released in welding fumes. And now the story gets more interesting.

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Manganese also is in many of the sprays that are used on golf courses to promote that healthy looking, beautiful green turf. They use manganese because it stimulates grass growth and inhibits fungal growth. But manganese isn't the only substance used on golf courses. Pesticides and weed killers, such as paraquat, glyphosate (Roundup), rotenone, maneb, and other organophosphates are also commonly used. And guess what. These chemicals and the solvents that are used with them also have been linked to Parkinson's in several studies. And that's not all.

Just three years ago, researchers looked at 99 identical twins. One of each pair of twins had Parkinson's and the other didn't. The researchers wanted to know why they both didn't have the disease. Obviously, something else besides genetics was involved in the Parkinson's cases. Could it be a chemical? So they looked to see if the twin with Parkinson's was more likely to have been exposed to certain chemicals.

Amazingly, if a twin was exposed to trichloroethylene, he was six times more likely to get Parkinson's. If he was exposed to perchloroethylene, he was 10 times more likely! Trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene are solvents used in dry cleaning and in various industrial applications. Since 2000, the dry cleaning industry has been phasing both of these chemicals out. But due to its heavy use in industry, trichloroethylene is still the most frequently reported organic contaminant in groundwater, identified in more than 60% of EPA Superfund sites.

Parkinson's is becoming more and more common every year. Undoubtedly this is because our exposure to chemicals is increasing all the time. If you have the genetics for Parkinson's, you're at a greater risk from this contamination. Another 2012 study showed that people with the genetics for Parkinson's are much more vulnerable to the kind of chemicals that can cause Parkinson's than the general population. So unless you're going to live in a bubble, let me make some suggestions.

First, take a scoop of my Super Immune QuickStart every day. It has nutrients that stimulate the detoxification process in the liver, which gets rid of chemicals. Second, eat organic foods as much as possible. Third, limit your exposure to "better living through chemistry." And fourth, start preconditioning yourself with regular ozone treatments every week. I covered this last strategy a few months ago in Second Opinion.

Yours for better health,


Golf Links to Parkinson's Disease? By Dr. Douglas Fields. 02/01/2013 Updated Apr 03, 2013

Parrish, M. and Gardner R.E. Is living downwind of a golf course a risk factor for Parkinsonism?  Annals of Neurology. Volume 72, Issue 6, page 984,December 2012

Racette, B.A. et al. (2012) Increased risk of parkinsonism associated with welding exposure. Neurotoxicology 33, 1356-61.

Goldman, S.M. et al., (2012) Solvent exposures in Parkinson disease risk in twins.Ann. Neurol. 71, 776-784.

Tsuboi, Y. (2012) Environmental-genetic interactions in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. Experimental Neurobiology, 21, 123-128.

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