Type 2 Diabetes – Is There A Link Between Parkinson's Disease and Diabetes?

A study performed by several scientists at the University of Oxford and various other research facilities in the United Kingdom has linked Type 2 diabetes with Parkinson's disease. The mechanism for this link is not yet understood.

The study reported on in June of 2018 in the medical journal Neurology, included …

  • 2,017,115 people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and
  • 6,173,208 non-diabetic individuals.

The participants with Type 2 diabetes had a 32 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease than the non-diabetic participants. The Type 2 diabetes participants with complications had a 49 percent higher risk of developing the disease, and the participants between 25 and 44 years of age had more than three times the chance.

The researchers speculated the participants with genes for Type 2 diabetes could also have genes for Parkinson's disease, or some mechanism involved in causing Type 2 diabetes could also cause the added disease. Further research is needed.

Worldwide about 10 million patients live with Parkinson's disease. It is usually diagnosed in …

  • people aged 60 or over, but about
  • 4 percent are diagnosed in individuals 50 or younger.

It is nearly twice as common in men as in women.

Parkinson's disease is caused by the destruction of brain cells that produce a molecule called dopamine. Possible reasons for this destruction include …

  • genetics,
  • illness,
  • head trauma, and the
  • exposure to pesticides and herbicides.

Dopamine is one of the molecules used by the nerve cells in the brai n to communicate with one another. Lack of this molecule leads to difficulties with movement. About half of those also suffer hallucinations and delusions. The mechanism for these symptoms is not known at this time. Other signs and symptoms include …

  • tremor,
  • stiffness,
  • slow movement,
  • poor balance,
  • a shuffling gait,
  • depression,
  • anxiety,
  • dementia,
  • constipation,
  • too much saliva and a difficulty swallowing,
  • a raised amount of sweating,
  • erectile dysfunction,
  • skin problems,
  • slowed speech with monotone, and
  • urinary urgency and frequency

Parkinson's disease is treated with levodopa, which is changed to dopamine in the brain. It is usually given with carbidopa, a drug given to inhibit the peripheral metabolism of levodopa. It allows a greater proportion of the levodopa to cross the blood-brain barrier enhancing the action of dopamine. It also helps prevent any nausea sometimes caused by the levodopa. Interestingly, an ancient Indian civilization treated the disease with seeds containing levodopa.

Fortunately, Parkinson's disease does not result in death, although sufferers can develop pneumonia from a difficulty with swallowing and fractures can occur from falls. The good news is most people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease live an average lifespan.