JUL 08, 2017 3:09 PM PDT

Parkinson's Disease and Melanoma May Be Intertwined

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

It’s not clear why, but researchers from the Mayo Clinic have confirmed that people with Parkinson’s disease are at a higher risk for melanoma. Furthermore, the link goes the other way too - people with melanoma seem to be at a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease.

Left: melanomas. Right: normal moles. \\ Image credit: Wikipedia.org

Parkinson’s disease affects about 1 million Americans, and is characterized by progressive neurodegeneration, causing severe impairments in movement. Most often, the disease is associated with uncontrolled tremors; however, patients can also suffer from muscle stiffness and the difficulty moving or speaking. Because the disease is progressive, symptoms worsen over time.

Aside from the neuromuscular defects, researchers have also noticed that patients with Parkinson’s disease seem to have a higher incidence of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. In particular, some studies implicated the Parkinson's drug levodopa in making patients more susceptible to developing melanoma. But the evidence against levodopa are scant, and some studies noted the link between the two diseases even in the absence of levodopa.

To fully understand the link between Parkinson’s and melanoma, researchers from the Mayo Clinic analyzed patient data in the Rochester Epidemiology Project database. They analyzed melanoma risk in 974 patients with confirmed Parkinson’s disease versus 2,922 unaffected people. At the same time, the team analyzed Parkinson’s disease risk in a group of 1,544 patients with melanoma.

The analysis confirmed the link previously noted between Parkinson’s disease and melanoma. Specifically, patients with Parkinson’s disease were four times more likely to develop the skin cancer. In addition, the results do not support the drug levodopa as a culprit in the association, as the link seems to go both ways. That is, patients with melanoma are also four times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

Although the study establishes a link between the two diseases, it does not provide a biological mechanism behind the association. However, the results suggest that patients who have one disease should be closely monitored for the other disease.

"Future research should focus on identifying common genes, immune responses and environmental exposures that may link these two diseases," says first author Lauren Dalvin, M.D., a Mayo Foundation Scholar in Ocular Oncology. "If we can pinpoint the cause of the association between Parkinson's disease and melanoma, we will be better able to counsel patients and families about their risk of developing one disease in the setting of the other."

Additional source: MNT

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
APR 20, 2021
Cardiology
Does Impaired Glucose Tolerance Increase Heart Damage After a Stroke?
APR 20, 2021
Does Impaired Glucose Tolerance Increase Heart Damage After a Stroke?
Diabetes is a looming threat to the world’s healthcare systems. Diagnoses of its precursors, impaired glucose tole ...
MAY 21, 2021
Neuroscience
New Method to Predict Treatment Outcomes for Epilepsy 95% Accurate
MAY 21, 2021
New Method to Predict Treatment Outcomes for Epilepsy 95% Accurate
Scientists from the University of Nottingham have found that the way neurons are connected within different brain region ...
JUN 09, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Faster, Cheaper Diagnosis of Rare Cancer in Fat Cells
JUN 09, 2021
Faster, Cheaper Diagnosis of Rare Cancer in Fat Cells
Scientists have created a gene panel test to quickly and more precisely diagnose common forms of liposarcoma. This break ...
JUL 21, 2021
Microbiology
What Causes False Positives? Understanding Blood Culture Contamination
JUL 21, 2021
What Causes False Positives? Understanding Blood Culture Contamination
Blood culture is the most widely used diagnostic tool for the detection of bacteremia and fungemia. It is the most impor ...
AUG 04, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Variants May Predict Which Young People Are at Risk for Severe COVID-19
AUG 04, 2021
Variants May Predict Which Young People Are at Risk for Severe COVID-19
While people carry mostly the same genes, there are many small changes in the sequences of those genes, and small variat ...
AUG 15, 2021
Microbiology
Lyme Disease Linked to Significantly Increased Suicide Risk
AUG 15, 2021
Lyme Disease Linked to Significantly Increased Suicide Risk
While about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC every year, the disease has been estimated to cause abu ...
Loading Comments...