Parkinson’s Disease Linked to 16 Types of Cancer in Taiwan, Says Study

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Parkinson’s DiseaseResearchers in Taiwan are suggesting that Parkinson’s disease is linked to 16 different types of cancer. Previous studies have associated Parkinson’s with a reduced risk of cancer, although these studies were mainly carried out in Western populations.

More studies are needed to clarify whether the findings can be applied to other East Asian populations, but the study suggests there is a connection between ethnicity and environmental factors in disease pathogenesis.

In the study, published in the June 18, 2015 issue of the journal JAMA Oncology, researchers discovered that men in Taiwan who have Parkinson’s disease are 1.71 times more likely to develop prostate cancer and 1.95 times more likely to experience melanoma.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Pan-Chyr, examined the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database and looked at over 62,000 patients who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease between the years of 2004 and 2010. In order to properly compare those patients, researchers also examined over 124,000 healthy people.

Despite not properly considering other risk factors linked to Parkinson’s disease—such as smoking and exposure to pesticides—researchers concluded that there is a risk factor between Parkinson’s and developing other cancers, including gastrointestinal tract cancers and malignant brain tumors, in Taiwan.

The study concluded that most kidney and bladder cancers, despite being linked to Parkinson’s disease, were also affected by exposure to certain environmental factors.

For kidney and urinary cancers, the hazard risk ratio (HR) was about 95% for those who had Parkinson’s disease. Also, those who had a low socioeconomic status were unable to properly treat Parkinson’s disease, due to lack of medication and resources.

The study further concluded that three out of the 19 cancers they monitored (thyroid cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer) did not show any relation to Parkinson’s disease. The most common cancers for women were not related to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

The study concluded that the average age between Parkinson’s disease and liver and kidney cancers was between 50 to 59 years old.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Parkinson’s:

Let’s take a further look at Parkinson’s disease.

Did you know that certain medical procedures, such as bone marrow transplants, can cause Parkinson’s symptoms? Head trauma, liver disease, tumors, lesions, and vascular disease are all direct causes of Parkinson’s disease. Physicians tend to be careful when testing for Parkinson’s. Several different tests need to be done:

  • The first test will be a blood test. The purpose is to test for toxins that may be causing the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
  • Next, an MRI and CT scan will examine the entire body and look for any unusual obstructions or abnormal functions in the vascular region.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s include:

1. Tremors: The shaking usually starts from the fingers or a limb. You may experience a pill-rolling tremor, which is when the hand is shaking in such a way that the tip of the thumb and forefinger rub together in a circular motion.

2. Slow movements: Parkinson’s will eventually begin to slow down the movements and functions of the body, making simple tasks more challenging and time-consuming.

3. Rigid muscles: You can experience pain or stiffness in the muscles, which can limit your range of motion.

4. Speech changes: Speech can change in several different ways; you may become very soft spoken, slur your words, or even talk at an unusually rapid pace.

5. Reduced balance or posture: You may have difficulty walking at a fast pace or maintaining your balance.

Natural Ways to Treat Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s Disease treatment1. Exercise: The neuroactivity that occurs in your brain needs to be protected, and according to researchers, exercise increases the protection of that activity. Researchers have related exercising to taking medication—if you don’t continue to do it, you will not see distinctive results.

2. Medication: The key to taking your Parkinson’s medication is timing. The medication will eventually wear off, so you want to ensure that you take your medication at scheduled times.

3. Dietary habits: A strict diet will also impact how effective the medication will work and it can help manage the symptoms. Avoid heavy protein—protein can interfere with a commonly-prescribed Parkinson’s medication called levodopa. You shouldn’t obtain more than 12% of your daily calories from protein. In order to properly follow a low-protein diet, you will want to carefully read the labels of every product you purchase; work with your doctor or dietitian to properly structure a diet plan.

Also read: Beat Away Parkinson’s Disease with Boxing, Tai Chi

4. Lifestyle changes: Making certain changes at home can also make it significantly easier for people to function and deal with Parkinson’s symptoms. For example, hiring the services of an occupational therapist may be a good idea. This type of therapist will generally look at where your furniture is placed to make it easier for you to maneuver around; or where to place extra railings and extensions for your toilets.

5. Gait training: The biggest challenge for someone with Parkinson’s is the ability to keep balance. Gait training will encourage new ways you can stand, walk, and turn. The more dedicated you are to this type of training, the easier it will be to become mobile and treat the symptoms.

Thompson, D., “Simple Ways to Relieve Common Parkinson’s Symptoms at Home,” Everyday Health web site, June 25, 2015;
Austin, D., “Parkinson’s Disease Linked to 16 Types of Cancer,” Apex Tribune web site, June 22, 2015;
Lin, P.Y., et al., “Association Between Parkinson Disease and Risk of Cancer in Taiwan,” JAMA Oncology 2015; doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.1752.
“Parkinson’s Disease,” Mayo Clinic web site, May, 28, 2014;