Diabetics May Have Increased Risk of Developing Parkinson's Disease

Diabetes and Parkinson’s disease would seem, at first, to be unrelated. Diabetes arises when the body can no longer properly use the blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Parkinson’s is a brain disease in which movement-regulating cells in the brain die off or become disabled, leading to symptoms like tremors, rigidity in the joints, slowed movement and balance problems. But there seems to be a connection.

A new study ‒ reported in the April issue of the journal Diabetes Care ‒ suggests that diabetics may have a slightly increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Though the reasons for the link are far from clear, the connection between diabetes and Parkinson’s risk could mean that the two diseases share some underlying mechanisms.

One possibility is chronic, low-level inflammation throughout the body, which is suspected of contributing to a number of chronic diseases by damaging cells. Oxidation ‒ the process fought by anti-oxidants ‒ is another.

The study, of nearly 289,000 older U.S. adults, found that those with diabetes at the outset were more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s over the next 15 years. Of 21,600 participants with diabetes, 172 (0.8 percent) were eventually diagnosed with Parkinson’s. That compared with 1,393 cases (0.5 percent) among the 267,000 men and women who were diabetes-free at the study’s start.

When the researchers accounted for other factors ‒ like age, weight and smoking habits ‒ diabetes itself was linked to a 41 percent increase in the risk of future Parkinson’s. That, however, does not prove that diabetes is a cause of Parkinson’s, and the reasons for the connection remain unknown.

See my full blogpost here.

More depressing news.

Funny how the medical community is perfectly able to distinguish between correlation and causality in some situations, but not in others!

So true, Lila. I’m sick of the gloom & doom reports. We must be the most studied group with consistently inconclusive results.

Look at it this way: Thanks to all this research, we know what CAN happen…it’s not necessary that it WILL happen…Better forewarned than to be caught by surprise, especially family members who should be prepared for the worst case scenario…Besides, good diabetes management means most complications are avoided till one is very old; by that time anything can happen to anybody, including non-diabetics :slight_smile: