A country life may sound idyllic, but experts have found a possible link between rural living and Parkinson’s disease.  Analysis of more than 100 studies from around the world shows that exposure to pesticides, bug and weed killers and solvents is associated with a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. 

Study author, Dr Emanuele Cereda, said: ‘Due to this association, there was also a link between farming or country living and developing Parkinson’s in some of the studies.’

Researchers from the IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy, reviewed studies that looked at weed, fungus, rodent or bug killers, and solvents in relation to the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Proximity to these chemicals, due to country living, occupation and drinking water were also evaluated.

The research found that being exposed to bug or weed killers and solvents increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 33 to 80 per cent.

In controlled studies, exposure to the weed killer paraquat or the fungicides maneb and mancozeb was associated with twice the risk of developing the disease.

Dr Cereda added: ‘We didn’t study whether the type of exposure, such as whether the compound was inhaled or absorbed through the skin and the method of application, such as spraying or mixing, affected Parkinson’s risk.

‘However, our study suggests that the risk increases in a dose response manner as the length of exposure to these chemicals increases.’

Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic neurological disorder, characterised by a deficiency of  dopamine.

This affects the way the brain co-ordinates the movements of the muscles in different parts of the body.

The disease mainly develops in the over 50s.

About 5 in 1,000 people in their 60s, and about 40 in 1,000 people in their 80s have the condition.

The main symptoms are slowness of movement, stiffness of muscles and shaking. These tend to slowly worsen with time although the rate varies from patient to patient.There is currently no cure.

The research appears in the journal Neurology.