Parkinson's doubles melanoma risk

June 8, 2011

People with Parkinson’s disease have a significantly higher risk of melanoma, new research suggests.

Research Triangle Park, N.C. - People with Parkinson’s disease have a significantly higher risk of melanoma, new research suggests.

The research, co-authored by Honglei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, analyzed 12 studies conducted from 1965 and 2010 that looked at the possible association between Parkinson’s and melanoma. Most of the studies had fewer than 10 cases with both conditions.

The new study found that men with Parkinson’s disease were twice as likely as those without Parkinson’s to have melanoma. Women with Parkinson’s were one-and-a-half times as likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than women without Parkinson’s. No clear link was found between Parkinson’s and nonmelanoma skin cancer.

A press release issued by the American Academy of Neurology, of which Dr. Chen is a member, quotes him as saying, “Parkinson’s disease patients in general have a lower risk for cancer, smoking-related cancers in particular, but they may have a higher risk for melanoma. One possible explanation for the link between Parkinson’s and melanoma is that the two diseases may share some genetic or environmental risk factors. However, our understanding of this link is very preliminary.”

The study, supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, was published in the June 7 issue of Neurology.