The numbers of sufferers of brain diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, have soared across the West in less than 20 years, scientists have discovered, informs UKnews. The alarming rise, which includes figures showing rates of dementia have trebled in men, has been linked to rises in levels of pesticides, industrial effluents, domestic waste, car exhausts and other pollutants, says a report in the journal Public Health.
In the late 1970s, there were around 3,000 deaths a year from these conditions in England and Wales. By the late 1990s, there were 10,000.
"This has really scared me," said Professor Colin Pritchard of Bournemouth University, one of the report's authors. "These are nasty diseases: people are getting more of them and they are starting earlier. We have to look at the environment and ask ourselves what we are doing." The team stresses that its figures take account of the fact that people are living longer and it has also made allowances for the fact that diagnoses of such ailments have improved. It is comparing death rates, not numbers of cases, it says.
As to the cause of this disturbing rise, Pritchard said genetic causes could be ruled out because any changes to DNA would take hundreds of years to take effect. "It must be the environment," he said.
The causes were most likely to be chemicals, from car pollution to pesticides on crops and industrial chemicals used in almost every aspect of modern life, from processed food to packaging, from electrical goods to sofa covers, Pritchard said.
According TVNZ a surge in the number of people suffering brain diseases in Australia and other Western countries is likely to have been caused by environmental factors.
A report in the journal Public Health says the number of people suffering Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease has soared in Western countries, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Scientists have linked the increase to rises in the level of pesticides, industrial effluents, domestic waste, car exhausts and other pollutants.
The Public Health report looked at the incidence of brain disease in Britain, the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain from 1979-97.
It found that dementias more than trebled for men and rose nearly 90% among women in England and Wales, and all the other countries were also affected.
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