According to new research, this worked vice versa too - people with melanoma also had a higher risk of developing Parkinson's. The study by the Mayo Clinic discovered that patients with Parkinson's were four times more likely to have a history of melanoma, and people with melanoma had a four-fold increased risk of developing Parkinson's. Researchers believe that doctors treating one disease should be aware of the increased likelihood of the other condition, and should, therefore, be on the lookout. The new study comes after decades-long speculation by medical experts about the possible connection.
While further research is needed to confirm the connection, the new findings strongly suggest there is a link between skin cancer and Parkinson's disease.
Previous research found that levodopa, a drug for Parkinson's, may cause malignant melanoma. However, other studies discovered an association regardless of levodopa. While further research is needed to confirm the connection, the new findings strongly suggest there is a link. Lauren Dalvin, first author and a Mayo Foundation Scholar in Ocular Oncology, said: "Future research should focus on identifying common genes, immune responses and environmental exposures that may link these two diseases.
"If we can pinpoint the cause of the association between Parkinson's disease and melanoma, we will be better able to counsel patients and families about their risk of developing one disease in the setting of the other."
In the study, they looked at the prevalence of melanoma in 974 patients with Parkinson's disease compared with 2,922 people without it, between January 1976 to December 2013.
Similarly, they identified cases of melanoma in the same period and determined the 35-year risk of Parkinson's in those patients compared with the risk in the same number of people without melanoma.
Like some previous studies, the latest research doesn't support levodopa as the cause.
The study authors believe that it is more likely common environmental, genetic or immune system abnormalities underly both conditions in patients.
They recommend that people with one of the two diseases should be monitored for the other to help achieve early diagnosis and better treatment.
Last week it was revealed that suncream to protect against skin cancer could turn toxic after swimming in a chlorinated pool.
According to the British Skin Foundation, there are 100,000 people diagnosed with skin cancer each year, while Parkinson's UK estimates that one person in every 500 will get Parkinson's disease.
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