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Scientists Find Links Among Parkinson's, Cancer and Family History

TUESDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- People with Parkinson's disease and their relatives may be at increased risk for prostate cancer and melanoma, and people with those cancers may be at increased risk for Parkinson's, a new study suggests.

University of Utah researchers estimated the risks for cancer among nearly 3,000 people in Utah who died of Parkinson's disease between 1904 and 2008, and in their relatives. They also analyzed data from the Utah Cancer Registry on more than 100,000 people diagnosed with cancer.

The study was published online Sept. 3 in the Archives of Neurology.

The researchers found that men with Parkinson's disease and their male relatives had a significantly increased risk for prostate cancer. They also found that prostate cancer patients and their male relatives had a significantly increased risk for Parkinson's, according to a journal news release.

Parkinson's disease is a neurological condition that can include tremors, stiffness, slurred speech and trouble walking.

The study also found that Parkinson's patients and their relatives had a significantly increased risk of melanoma, and that melanoma patients and their relatives had a significantly increased risk of Parkinson's.

The findings suggest that there is a shared genetic risk for Parkinson's and certain cancers, according to Dr. Seth Kareus and colleagues.

Identifying and understanding this relationship could help doctors better assess cancer risk in Parkinson's disease patients, prove helpful in counseling their relatives, and influence strategies for skin and prostate cancer screening, the researchers said.

While the study found an association between family history, Parkinson's disease and cancer risk, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about Parkinson's disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Archives of Neurology, news release, Sept. 3, 2012

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