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Parkinson's Linked to Various Cancers in East Asians

Update Date: Jun 18, 2015 05:59 PM EDT

Previous studies on Parkinson's disease reveals that the neurodegenerative disorder decreases the risk of cancer. However, new research on East Asian populations reveal the opposite.

Taiwanese scientists recently linked Parkinson's disease to 16 types of cancer. Researchers noted previous studies on Parkinson's focused mostly on western populations, and recent work reveals that genes play a significant role in an individual's disease risk.

The latest study involved data from Taiwan National Health Insurance. Researchers compared 62,023 patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease from 2004 through 2010 to 124,046 control participants without the neurodegenerative disorder.

The latest findings linked Parkinson's disease to 16 other cancers including malignant brain tumors, gastrointestinal tracts cancers, lung cancers, some hormone-related cancers, urinary tract cancers, lymphoma/leukemia, melanoma and other skin cancers.

However, researchers were unable to link the disease to higher rates of breast, ovarian or thyroid cancers.

"Based on this nationwide study on the association between PD [Parkinson disease] and cancer risk, we conclude that PD is a risk factor for most cancer in Taiwan. In our cohort, only breast, ovarian and thyroid cancers show no association with PD. Further studies are needed to clarify whether our findings can be applied to other East Asian populations. The striking differences between our study and the previous studies in Western cohorts suggest the importance of ethnicity and environmental exposures in disease pathogenesis," lead researcher Pan-Chyr Yang, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, and coauthors, wrote in the study.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

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