Parkinson's disease linked with elevated risk of prostate cancer

April 21, 2011

Parkinson's disease appears to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, and this increased risk also extends to close and distant relatives of individuals with Parkinson's disease, according to research presented at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Honolulu.

Parkinson’s disease appears to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, and this increased risk also extends to close and distant relatives of individuals with Parkinson’s disease, according to research presented at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Honolulu.

For the study, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, examined the Utah Population Database (UPDB), which includes birth, death, and family relationship data for more than 2.2 million individuals. The team screened the UPDB to identify nearly 3,000 individuals with at least three generations of genealogic data who had Parkinson’s disease listed as their cause of death.

The researchers discovered that the risk of prostate cancer and melanoma within this 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 Parkinson’s disease.

In order to validate the observed association between Parkinson’s disease-related death and these two cancers, the researchers also identified individuals who were diagnosed with either prostate cancer or melanoma to evaluate their risk for death with Parkinson’s disease. They found that these individuals, as well as all their relatives, had a significantly increased risk of death with PD.

"In our study, we not only identified an increased risk for prostate cancer and melanoma among individuals with PD and their relatives, but also established a reciprocal risk for PD among individuals with these two cancers and their relatives," said co-author Stefan-M. Pulst, MD. "Collectively, these data strongly support a genetic association between PD and both prostate cancer and melanoma."

"Our findings point to the existence of underlying pathophysiologic changes that are common to PD, prostate cancer, and melanoma," said co-author Lisa Cannon-Albright, PhD. "Exploring the precise genetic links among these diseases could improve our understanding of PD and influence strategies for prostate and skin cancer screening."