Medical records registered within the past 50 years indicate that patients with Parkinson’s disease are at risk of developing cancer, new Taiwanese study finds. Dr. Pan-Chyr Yang, a well-renowned researcher at the National Taiwan University of Medicine has reached the conclusion after comparing the cancer risks of patients with Parkinson’s disease to the ones of healthy individuals.
The study was conducted on a group of 62,023 patients from Taiwan suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Their medical records have been compared to the ones of 124,046 individuals, who had never been diagnosed with the said neurodegenerative disease.
Medical experts have studied only the information that was registered by the Taiwan National Health Insurance Database between 2004 and 2010. In addition, they have observed the evolution of the patients until December 31st, 2012 or until a cancer diagnosed was set.
At the end of the study Dr. Pan-Chyr Yang concluded that patients with Parkinson’s disease are at risk of developing cancer. More specifically, there are 16 types of cancer that are usually linked to this neurodegenerative affection, namely, brain, kidney, lung, prostate, colorectal and cervical forms.
Parkinson’s patients are also likely to develop leukemia, according to Yang’s findings. On the other hand, breast, thyroid and ovarian cancers were not linked to the said illness.
The study further showed that respondents, who did not suffer from Parkinson’s, did not develop any of the said forms of cancer throughout the years.
One possible explanation for this finding could be the alteration of the PARK2 gene, which has been often noticed in cancer patients. Yang is, nevertheless, aware that further studies have to be carried out to pinpoint the exact causes that increase cancer risks among patients with Parkinson.
Although the experiment has led to an important discovery, there are many limitations that could be contested or even denied by additional tests. First of all, the study was only conducted through medical database analysis and not through the real observation of patients.
Second of all, medical experts were not able to find out whether the patients were also smokers. Smoking has been identified as the main factor contributing to cancer death rates in Taiwan.
The study conducted by Dr. Pan-Chyr Yang and his colleagues is the first research that takes into consideration a possible link between cancer forms and Parkinson in Asian regions. The majority of the studies that have been carried out in the past focused on the Western states.
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