People with type-2 diabetes are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those without the condition, a new study has found.
According to a British research team, people with type-2 diabetes are 32 per cent more likely of developing the illness that causes tremors and impacts the motor system. Their study is the largest body of research to date to link the two health conditions.
Using data from more than two million people with a type-2 diagnosis between 1999 and 2011, researchers from the University College London, Queen Mary University of London and University of Oxford were able to analyse the data with a comparison group of more than six million people without type-2 diabetes.
According to the study, published in the Medical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology, 14,252 people with type-2 diabetes had a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease during a later hospital admission, compared with 20,878 in the comparison group. After some exclusions were made including similar conditions, age and gender, researchers determined those with type-2 diabetes were 32 per cent more likely to have a subsequent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
“We can now say more definitely that there is a link between diabetes and Parkinson’s, but we need to do more research to understand the relationship – whether it’s due to genetics, the effect of diabetes on the brain, or both,” lead author Professor Tom Warner said. “While the association is substantial, it’s still clear that most people with type-2 diabetes will not go on to develop Parkinson’s disease.”
The research determined people aged between 25 and 44 had a stronger link between the two conditions. Others who experienced complications with their diabetes were also risk.
It is thought the link could be based on a shared genetic predisposition to both conditions, based on research from other studies. Researchers also said it was possibly a result of insulin signalling on the brain, which further explains why those with complicated cases of diabetes are more likely to experience Parkinson’s.
It is hoped the study will help find a cure or further treatment for Parkinson’s.
“We’ve added to evidence that diabetes and Parkinson’s are linked, which in turn raises the possibility that they may respond to common therapies,” co-author Dr Alastair Noyce said. “We hope that furthering our understanding of the relationship between the two diseases could help improve treatments for both conditions.”
The authors also noted that previous studies had resulted in conflicting evidence over whether there was a link between type-2 diabetes and that the new study helps clarify the direction of the association.
The latest research comes after a recent study found separating adult-onset diabetes into five types, rather than the two that health professionals currently define it by, could make treatment even better for patients.
It is estimated that about 10 million people worldwide currently live with Parkinson’s Disease, and 371 million have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.