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Convincing evidence that type 2 diabetes is associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s

Research from Queen Mary University of London has concluded that there is convincing evidence that type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

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A brain scan
A brain scan

The study found that those with type 2 diabetes had a 21 per cent increased risk of developing Parkinson’s. However, because Parkinson’s only affects around 1-2 per cent of people over the age of 60, people with type 2 diabetes still have a very small absolute risk of developing Parkinson’s.

The authors say that the most important implications of that findings are that drugs that are already available for type 2 diabetes might be helpful in reducing the risk and slowing the progression of Parkinson’s. They also say that screening for and early treatment of type 2 diabetes in patients with Parkinson’s may be advisable.

Previous systematic reviews and meta-analyses have produced conflicting results around the link between diabetes and the risk of Parkinson’s disease. This new study, published in the Movement Disorders Journal, used meta-analysis of observational data and meta-analysis of genetic data to evaluate the effect of type 2 diabetes on risk and progression of Parkinson’s disease. 

Corresponding author Dr Alastair Noyce from Queen Mary University of London said: This research brings together the results from many other studies to provide convincing evidence that type 2 diabetes likely affects not only Parkinson’s risk, but also Parkinson’s progression. There are many treatment strategies for type 2 diabetes, including prevention strategies, which may be re-purposed for the treatment of Parkinson’s.”

The Preventive Neurology Unit is funded by Barts Charity. Funding for co-authors came from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), Parkinson Canada, and the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Institute on Aging.

More information

  • Research paper: ‘Type 2 diabetes as a determinant of Parkinson's disease risk and progression’. Harneek Chohan, Konstantin Senkevich, Radhika K Patel, Jonathan P Bestwick, Benjamin M Jacobs, Sara Bandres Ciga, Ziv Gan-Or, Alastair J Noyce. Movement Disorders Journal, 2021.
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