Parkinson's disease is associated
with an increased risk for prostate cancer and melanoma and this risk may
further extend to close and distant relatives, according to researchers at the University
of Utah Medical School. The risk went both ways meaning that someone with
Parkinson's disease was more likely to develop one of the cancers and vice
versa. They also noted a decreased risk for lung cancer among patients with
Parkinson's, but this association did not extend to relatives.
This means that genetic factors are responsible for the Parkinson's and prostate cancer, melanoma association, while environmental factors are responsible for Parkinson's and lung cancer association. For the study the researchers used the Utah Population Database which included the birth, death and family relationship data for more than 2.2 million people, including some genealogy data from the original Utah pioneers.
Researchers believe that screening can detect both prostate cancer and melanoma in earlier stages. Since the study has uncovered the details about the shared genetic pathways between the diseases, it may now lead to new treatments. Similarly it is also a reminder to clinicians and patients to be careful of family medical history. The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Hawaii.