Rheumatoid arthritis is linked to higher risk of Parkinson’s disease

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Recent research conducted by Kosin University College of Medicine in Korea has uncovered a significant correlation between patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and a heightened risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD).

This discovery, published in JAMA Neurology, is at odds with previous studies that had found a decreased risk or no correlation at all.

The Study’s Method and Findings

The Korean team performed a retrospective cohort study involving 54,680 RA patients and a control group of 273,400 individuals without the disease.

This research, using the Korean National Health Insurance Service database, spanned from 2010 to 2017, with a follow-up in 2019.

Among the RA patients, 39,010 were identified as having seropositive RA, with the remaining 15,670 having seronegative RA.

Analyzing the total population of 328,080 participants, the researchers found that the RA patients were 1.74 times more likely to develop PD compared to the control group.

This risk was particularly higher for patients with seropositive RA.

Given these results, the authors urge physicians to be mindful of the increased PD risk in RA patients, recommending prompt referrals to neurologists at the onset of early motor symptoms.

Conflicting Findings in Past Studies

The Korean study contradicts earlier research on the association between RA and PD.

For instance, a 2009 Danish Cancer Society study reported a 30% decrease in PD risk in RA patients, and a 2021 Swedish study found a similar reduction in risk of 30%-50%.

Furthermore, a 2016 study in Taiwan reported a 35% lower incidence of PD among 33,221 RA patients.

However, another Taiwan study in 2017 suggested a 14% increased risk of PD in RA patients, which partially aligns with the recent Korean research.

Towards Unraveling the Connection

The discrepancies among these studies highlight the need for further investigations to clarify the relationship between RA and PD.

It is possible that the observed statistical correlations, both positive and negative, suggest no actual mechanism connecting the two diseases.

Should a link exist, it would indeed present an intriguing situation.

RA is known to be highly heritable, while only about 10% of PD cases have genetic markers, with the disease thought to be greatly influenced by environmental factors.

Hence, future research will play a crucial role in unraveling this complex data and providing clearer insights.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E may help prevent Parkinson’s disease and findings of MIND and Mediterranean diets could help delay Parkinson’s Disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s disease.

The study was published in JAMA Neurology.

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