In a large study, researchers find that people with type 2 diabetes may have a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease later in life.
In addition, the risk may be higher for younger people and those with complications from the disease.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease that affects a part of the brain that helps control movement.
In type 2 diabetes, a person either doesn’t make enough insulin to effectively turn blood sugar into energy or the cells don’t use the insulin as well as they should.
In the study, researchers looked at data in a nationwide hospital database in England over 12 years.
They identified more than 2 million people who were admitted to the hospital for type 2 diabetes for the first time.
They were then compared to more than 6 million people without diabetes who were admitted to a hospital for minor medical and surgical procedures like sprains, varicose veins, appendectomy and hip replacement.
They found that among the more than 2 million people with diabetes, 14,252 had a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease during a later hospital admission, compared with 20,878 of the more than 6 million people without diabetes who were later diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
After excluding confounding factors, the researchers found that those with type 2 diabetes had a 31 percent greater risk of a later diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease than those without diabetes.
In addition, they found the risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease later in life was even higher for younger people, ages 25 to 44.
In that group, 58 of 130,728 people developed Parkinson’s, compared with 280 of 2,559,693 in the group of people without diabetes.
Among those who were 75 and older, there were 7,371 people out of 664,709 people with diabetes who developed Parkinson’s, compared with 10,105 out of 752,104 in the group of people without diabetes.
Furthermore, those with complications from diabetes had a 49% greater risk of a later diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease than people without the disease.
Those without diabetes complications were 30% more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those without the disease.
The team suggests that restoring the brain’s ability to use insulin could potentially have a protective effect on the brain.
It is possible that a link between type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s could affect future diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.
One limitation of the study was that researchers were unable to adjust results for medication and smoking.
Also, because it was a hospital-based study, it is possible those diagnosed with diabetes may have had a more severe form of the disease than those who are diagnosed in a clinic.
Whether it is genetics that may play a role in the development of these diseases or they have similar pathways to development needs to be investigated further.
The study is published in Neurology.
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