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Parkinson's Linked to Risk of Alzheimer's
Date:10/8/2007

Relatives of Parkinson's patients more likely to develop dementia, study finds

MONDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Relatives of people with Parkinson's disease face up to a 73 percent increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease, suggests a new study that says genetics could be to blame.

Parkinson's disease causes declines in functions of the central nervous system, such as impaired motor skills and speech.

"The co-occurrence of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease in families and in individuals may be due to the sharing of susceptibility genetic variants," according to the report in the October issue of the Archives of Neurology.

In the study, Dr. Walter A. Rocca, of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues collected data on 1,019 first-degree relatives of 162 patients with Parkinson's disease, and on 858 relatives of 147 people who were the same age and sex as someone in the Parkinson's disease group but did not have the condition. Also included were 2,716 relatives of 411 patients with Parkinson's disease who were referred to the Mayo Clinic.

The researchers found that relatives of those with Parkinson's had a 37 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's, compared to those with relatives who didn't have the disease. Moreover, relatives of people who developed Parkinson's before the age of 66 were 73 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's, the study found.

"We studied brothers, sisters, parents and children of patients with Parkinson's diseases and looked at how many developed dementia or cognitive impairment," said study co-author Dr. James H. Bower, also of the Mayo Clinic. "We found that if you had a first-degree relative with Parkinson's disease, you are more likely to develop cognitive impairment or dementia than if you didn't have a first-degree relative with Parkinson's disease.

"These are different diseases," Bowe
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