The cause of most cases of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is unknown. Researchers have found genes or genetic variants that are associated with risk for the development of PD, but genetic causes are thought to play a role in only a minority of cases. However, accumulating evidence from epidemiologic studies, laboratory basic research, and animal models indicates that exposure to environmental toxins can increase risk of the disease. These substances include pesticides, solvents, metals, and other environmental pollutants. In this episode, Samuel Goldman, MD, MPH, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, reviews what has been learned so far and explains some of the complexities of doing research on environmental causes of PD.
- Understanding Parkinson’s: Environmental Factors
- Update from our CSO: Pesticides, Paraquat and Parkinson’s (blog)
- Episode 35: Preclinical Models of PD (podcast)
- Frequently Asked Questions: A Guide to Parkinson’s Disease (book)
- Veterans Day Bonus Episode (podcast)
About This Episode
Released: February 8, 2022
Samuel Goldman, MD
Dr. Sam Goldman is Professor of Occupational & Environmental Medicine and Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco and an environmental medicine clinician and investigator at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Prior to joining UCSF, Sam was a senior research scientist for many years at the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, CA. He is also former co-director of the CDC-supported Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit. Sam attended medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center and trained in Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health Science at the University of California Berkeley. Along with his longtime collaborator Dr. Caroline Tanner and others, he has published extensively on the epidemiology of Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, with a focus on environmental risk factors. Foremost among these are pesticides, solvents and traumatic brain injury, and their interactions with genetic susceptibility factors.
For all of our Substantial Matters podcast episodes, visit parkinson.org/podcast.