A new study published in the JAMA Oncology journal seems to indicate that Parkinson’s disease can be a risk factor for as many as 16 different types of cancer, from leukemia and malignant brain tumors to lung cancer cancer.
The research was conducted by a group of Taiwanese scientists from different universities and institutes throughout the country, and was carried out with the goal of analyzing the association between Parkinson’s and different cancer types in East Asia. The authors motivated it by citing the fact that Parkinson’s patients are considered to have a lower risk of developing cancer in Western populations, but the relation of the two diseases has not been studied in Eastern Asian populations.
Researchers used data pertaining to more than 133,000 patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and 124.000 who did not have syndrome, gathered from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database. The afflicted individuals were all diagnosed with the disease between 2004 and 2010. The study found that out of the 19 types of cancer which were observed, Parkinson’s patients did not have an increased incidence of cancer for only three types: breast, ovarian and thyroid cancer.
The 16 other types of cancer were found to have a higher incidence in people diagnosed with Parkinson’s when compared to those who weren’t suffering from the disease. The list of cancer diseases which were more prevalent in them include those affecting the urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, lung, hormones, liver, stomach pancreas , gallbladder and prostate, as well as melanoma, leukemia, malignant brain tumors and some types of skin cancer.
The researchers concluded that at least in Taiwan Parkinson’s disease represents a risk factor for cancer and also states that the strikingly different results from those of Western studies, which had opposite conclusions, suggests that ethnicity and the environment can greatly modify the way in which diseases interact with one another.
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most widespread neurological disorders in the United States, with statistics indicating that more than one million Americans are currently living with the disease. This represents about 10 percent of the number of cases worldwide. 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, with the vast majority of them being over 50 years of age. The disease costs the U.S. over $25 billion per year in treatments, income from losing the ability to work and social security/insurance payments. Treatment of the disease is particularly expensive as well, with medication costing the average patient over $3,000 per year and therapeutic surgeries going up to $100,000.
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