Common chemicals boost Parkinson's risk

For better or for worse, we're surrounded by chemicals -- and usually it's worse, as constant exposure can increase your risk of chronic diseases and other serious health problems.

And now, new research confirms that some of the most common chemicals of all --different types of pesticides, fungicides, weed killers, and solvents -- can increase your risk of Parkinson's disease by between 33 percent and 80 percent on average.

Some types of pesticides in particular increase the risk by an average of 58 percent -- or enough to add 10 new Parkinson's patients for every 1,000 people over the course of a lifetime, according to the study in Neurology.

And for some chemicals, the risk is even higher. Two fungicides -- maneb and mancozeb -- and the weed killer paraquat can actually double your Parkinson's risk.

The risk of course is highest in people with the highest levels of exposure -- people who work with these chemicals for a living, especially farm workers.

But if you're an office worker living in the suburbs, don't rest too easy. Nearly all of us are exposed to these and other chemicals thanks to two common sources of contamination.

First is through water. U.S. water is tainted with high levels of drugs and chemicals, including the types pesticides, fungicides, and solvents looked at in the new study. This is especially true if you have farms in your region, as the runoff from pesticides used on crops makes its way into the groundwater and -- ultimately -- into the water supply shared by millions.

Water treatment can't remove it all, which is why I recommend drinking water filtered with either reverse osmosis or a distiller.

(It's not just the stuff that gets into the water supply accidently that we need to be concerned about either. A chemical that's being dumped into your drinking water right now could be responsible for your food allergies. To find out what it is, and why you should be worried, read this.)

Second is through food. Conventional foods are loaded with different types of pesticides -- and not just from the farm. Apples, for example, can be placed in cold storage for months at a time, which is why they are often available all year around -- but they're practically soaked in pesticides and fungicides to prevent mold, blight, rot, and more while in storage.

And that's why I recommend switching to organic produce -- ideally in-season locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Limiting your exposure will cost a little more now, but you'll more than make up for it with better health later.