Drinking This Kind of Water Increases Your Parkinson's Risk, Studies Show

If you drink this type of water, your Parkinson's risk level may be up to three times higher.

Approximately one one million people in the U.S. today have been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease (PD). A progressive neurological disorder, PD often starts with minor tremors and leads to shaking, stiffness, and poor motor coordination, making it difficult for patients to walk, talk, and balance.

Symptoms from Parkinson's arise when neurons in the brain begin to break down or die, impeding the movement of dopamine from your brain to your muscles. Beyond that, the root cause of Parkinson's is unknown, though the Mayo Clinic says that certain genetic and environmental factors appear to play a role. In fact, recent research suggests that there's one thing you may do every day that can lead to a heightened risk of developing Parkinson's Disease: drinking a certain type of water. Read on to learn which kind of water is associated with higher rates of Parkinson's Disease, and how this may affect your own risk level.

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Drinking well water is linked with a higher likelihood of developing Parkinson's.

Senior man drink mineral water in gym fitness center after exercise. Elderly healthy lifestyle.

A growing body of research suggests that there is a correlation between drinking well water and developing Parkinson's Disease later in life. One particular study, conducted by a team at UCLA and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that those who consume well water are statistically more likely to develop PD. After reviewing the medical records and personal histories of 700 people living in California's farm belt between 1974 and 1999, they determined that those who ultimately developed PD had consumed private well water on average 4.3 years longer than those who did not.

RELATED: If You Notice This While Walking, It Could Be an Early Sign of Parkinson's.

A lack of regulation could be to blame.

Spraying farm with pesticides

Experts believe that the link between well water and Parkinson's could be the result of well water being more likely to be contaminated with metals, pesticides, herbicides, and other pollutants than filtered municipal water. "Unlike municipal water supplies, private wells are largely unregulated and are not monitored for contaminants. Many are dug at shallow depths of less than 20 yards, and some of the crop chemicals used to kill pests and weeds can seep into groundwater," explains Scientific American.

Broader environmental factors may also be to blame.

red farmhouse and rows of crops
Shutterstock/Bjorn Bakstad

While the research seems to support an association between well water and an increased risk of PD, the American Parkinson Disease Foundation (APDA) points out that the interrelated nature of several environmental factors make it difficult to single out any one factor as solely responsible.

Those who drink private well water are more likely to live on a farm, be exposed to pesticides through other means, live in proximity to farm animals, and live in rural areas. "In the end, epidemiologic data supports the assertion that each of these elements increases the risk of PD," the APDA explains.

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Certain chemicals lead to more dangerous contamination.

Man spraying pesticides on plants in protective suit

Those who consumed well water in close proximity to certain pesticides were found to be at a higher risk than others. In particular, the UCLA study found that people drinking well water within 500 meters of fields sprayed with pesticides had a 66 percent increased risk of later developing PD. Those drinking well water near land treated with the insecticides propargite or chlorpyrifos had a 90 percent higher risk. This translates into a nearly doubled risk of someday developing Parkinson's.

"The chemical with the most data linking it to an increased PD risk is paraquat," says the APDA, referring to a chemical herbicide used to kill weeds. Exposure to paraquat is "associated with a 2-3 fold increased PD risk over the general population," the organization warns.

If you regularly consume well water, especially in areas being sprayed with chemical pesticides or herbicides, be sure to have your water filtered and regularly tested.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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