Parkinson`s disease linked to cancer

Updated: Apr 08, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

University of Utah School of Medicine researchers has found strong evidence that Parkinson`s disease is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer and melanoma.

They also discovered that this increased cancer risk also extends to close and distant relatives of individuals with Parkinson`s disease.

Parkinson`s disease (PD) is a progressive neurologic condition that leads to tremors and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination.

"Neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson`s disease may share common disease-causing mechanisms with some cancers," said Stefan-M. Pulst, co-author of the study.

"Using the Utah Population Database, we were able to explore the association of PD with different types of cancer by studying cancer risk in individuals with PD, as well as their close and distant relatives," he said.

The Utah Population Database (UPDB) includes birth, death, and family relationship data for over 2.2 million individuals, including genealogy data from the original Utah pioneers. Some of the records in this computerized database extend back over 15 generations, making the UPDB a useful resource for studying genetic risk.

The study team screened the UPDB to identify nearly 3000 individuals with at least three generations of genealogical data who had PD listed as their cause of death.

The researchers discovered that the risk of prostate cancer and melanoma within this PD population was significantly higher than expected.

They also observed an increased risk for prostate cancer and melanoma among first-, second-, and third-degree relatives of these individuals with PD, although the excess risk for melanoma in third-degree relatives did not reach statistical significance.

In order to validate the observed association between PD-related death and these two cancers, the researchers also identified individuals who were diagnosed with either melanoma or prostate cancer to evaluate their risk for death with PD.

They found that these individuals, as well as all their relatives, had a significantly increased risk for death with PD.