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Utah study: Parkinson's disease tied to increased skin cancer risk

Published September 3, 2012 8:26 pm

Health • Study marks the first time the two diseases are connected.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

People diagnosed with Parkinson's disease may one day seek regular screenings for melanoma, now that University of Utah researchers have linked the two using the Utah Population Database.

The neurologic condition puts people at increased risk of melanoma as well as prostate cancer, according to new researched published Monday in the Archives of Neurology.

The risk is higher not only for immediate relatives but also for second- and third-degree relations.

But the increased risk of these diseases is relatively low, said Stefan Pulst, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology and the study's senior author.

"The risk became less and less significant the more distant the family relation was," he said in an interview.

Melanoma screenings are generally non-invasive and cost-effective. But debate continues on the value of prostate-cancer screenings.

The researchers used the population database to study nearly 3,000 people who had died of Parkinson's disease, which is a progressive condition that affects movement and coordination. The names were cross-referenced with the Utah Cancer Registry.

Previous studies showed that Parkinson's patients have a decreased risk of many other kinds of cancer. This research is the first time Parkinson's has been linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Pulst said the population database provides rich information to researchers.

"Participation in these statewide research efforts can benefit everybody in the state," he said. "The way Utahns look at their contribution to research is really remarkable."

jlyon@sltrib.com

What is the Utah Population Database?

Go to http://bit.ly/PHNWLB to learn more.