Dementia: THIS toxic plant killer could give you Parkinson’s disease

The herbicide, known as paraquat, is a toxic chemical that’s widely used in Asia, and is only legally allowed to be used for some farmers in the US.

The chemical causes cells to die, and brain neurones to stop functioning in the brain, scientists have revealed.

Some people working on farms were at risk of developing dementia because of exposure to the plant killer, they added.

Paraquat could also lead to heart, kidney and liver failure, as well as lung scaring.

Some people have specific genes that could lead to dementia when in contact with the plant killer, scientists said.

“Certain people with genetic mutations could have high levels of this gene,” said senior author of the research, Dr Navdeep Chandel.

“They would be very susceptible to paraquat poisoning while working on a farm, for example.”

The extent of poisoning form the plant killer depends on the amount that come into contact with the body.

About 3,000 genes were analysed to find which ones died when exposed to the weed killer.

Most of them died, but not all of them. Certain cells were resistant to paraquat, meaning they were responsible for the toxicity, the researchers from Northwestern University claimed.

The main source of the damage came from a specific protein, known as POR.

Pinpointing these genes could help doctors find the most at-risk people of developing Parkinson’s disease.

The most likely way humans could be exposed to paraquat is by swallowing it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It can easily be discretely mixed with food and water, or breathed in.

Exposure to paraquat will likely lead to rapid mouth and throat swelling.

Other symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion, seizures, fast heart rate and entering a coma.

Paraquat is illegal in the UK.