According to a recent study conducted by a research team in Taiwan, Parkinson’s disease may be a risk factor in 16 types of cancers including brain cancer.
The study, which was published late last week in the journal JAMA Oncology, is the first research conducted by scientists in East Asia to underscore a link between Parkinson’s disease and cancer risk. Other studies had been led by Western states.
But about 25 other studies had shown a similar link between the two diseases, but many of them showed that Parkinson’s may actually lower the risk in some types of cancer. But the latest findings clearly show that genetic factors may increase risk in both disease and there may be a common link between the two.
According to the new study, Parkinson’s disease patients are 1.71 times and 1.95 times more likely to develop prostate cancer, respectively the deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma.
The lead-author of the study Dr. Pan-Chyr Yang from the National Taiwan University College of Medicine and his team sifted through data on 62.023 Parkinson’s disease patients and compared their risk cancer to a control group of 124,046 healthy participants. The data on patients diagnosed with the progressive disorder of the nervous system was gathered in the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database between 2004 and 2010.
On the other hand there was no significant link between Parkinson’s and risk of thyroid, breast and ovarian cancers. But Taiwanese researchers found a consistent link in 16 forms of cancer. Parkinson’s seems to boost the risk of bladder, stomach, brain, lung, hormone-related, blood, skin cancers and many others by a significant amount.
Nevertheless, study authors admitted that their research had some limitations. They acknowledged that they may have underestimated Parkinson’s disease occurrence in their country. Plus they didn’t adjust the findings for other risk factors such as smoking, substance abuse, pesticide exposure, and family history.
“Based on this nationwide study on the association between Parkinson’s disease and cancer risk, we conclude that Parkinson’s is a risk factor for most cancer in Taiwan,”
noted the team in a recent public statement.
They also said that more studies were required to reveal whether the link was present in other Asian populations, as well. Taiwanese scientists argued that their study’s results were at odds with Western studies because ethnicity may play a major role in cancer spread among Asians.
As a follow-up, the team plans to search for genetic links between the two diseases.
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