Parkinson’s disease doesn’t come alone, as a new Taiwanese study reveals. It has been found that the affection is associated with 16 types of cancer. Researchers have based their findings on the Taiwan National Health Insurance Database and built a study group of 62.023 patients with freshly diagnosed Parkinson’s, starting with 2004 until 2010 and 124,046 Parkinson’s free, for comparison.
The aim of the study was to contradict some recent findings that stated there is no evidence or link between PD and cancer. More than 25 epidemiological studies have been conducted to reveal a relative association between the two affections and most of research has shown that individuals suffering from PD actually had small chances to develop cancer, in comparison to those without Parkinson’s. However, genetic playgrounds play an important part in the disease development. And this is of no surprise, as Parkinson’s is a disease of the brain and the genetic background matters a lot.
The study conducted in Taiwan helped scientists discover that actually Parkinson’s disease is linked to many cancer types, including lung cancers, some hormone-related cancers, tracts cancers, urinary tract cancers, lymphoma and leukemia, melanoma and other skin cancers. The list may go on but the examples above are extremely relevant and raise some question marks about how the link is done and what can be done to prevent cancer installation in Parkinson’s patients. It seems that there are few cancer types not associated with Parkinson’s. Breast cancer, ovarian or thyroid cancers have no relation whatsoever with PD.
Although compelling, the study misses some pieces of information that may influence the general results. The limitations include possible underestimation of PD incidence, scientists have not checked up smoking status or research on pesticide exposure. Questions regarding genetic correlations must also be answered, to shed some more relevant truth on the available pieces of information.
It is also highly important to state that the results are based on populations in Taiwan exclusively, as almost all previous studies related to Western populations fail to demonstrate a link between the two affections. Further studies need to be conducted in order to see if the results can be applied to other East Asian populations.
However, this study outlines the importance of ethnicity and environmental exposures in disease characteristics. Some populations are more exposed than others, based on the food they eat, the air they breathe, the genetic background and other important factors that make all the difference.
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