Pesticide exposure and risk of Alzheimer's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 1:6:32222. doi: 10.1038/srep32222.


Evidence suggests that lifelong cumulative exposure to pesticides may generate lasting toxic effects on the central nervous system and contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). A number of reports indicate a potential association between long-term/low-dose pesticide exposure and AD, but the results are inconsistent. Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis to clarify this association. Relevant studies were identified according to inclusion criteria. Summary odds ratios (ORs) were calculated using fixed-effects models. A total of seven studies were included in our meta-analysis. A positive association was observed between pesticide exposure and AD (OR = 1.34; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08, 1.67; n = 7). The summary ORs with 95% CIs from the crude and adjusted effect size studies were 1.14 (95% CI = 0.94, 1.38; n = 7) and 1.37 (95% CI = 1.09, 1.71; n = 5), respectively. The sensitivity analyses of the present meta-analysis did not substantially modify the association between pesticide exposure and AD. Subgroup analyses revealed that high-quality studies tended to show significant relationships. The present meta-analysis suggested a positive association between pesticide exposure and AD, confirming the hypothesis that pesticide exposure is a risk factor for AD. Further high-quality cohort and case-control studies are required to validate a causal relationship.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pesticides*
  • Risk Factors


  • Pesticides