Vitiligo Patients Face Lower Parkinson’s Disease Risk, but Higher Mortality and Health Issues if Both Conditions Co-Exist

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According to a Frontiers in Neurology study, about .3% of people have PD, but it’s more common in older adults: 1% of those over 60 and 3% over 80.

Those with vitiligo are less likely to develop Parkinson's disease (PD), however, if one with vitiligo does develop PD, they could face higher risks of serious health issues and an increased risk of mortality, according to a study published in Frontiers in Neurology.

PD is a disorder where brain cells progressively die, which affects one’s movement.

Researchers of the study shared about .3% of people have PD, but it’s more common in older adults: 1% of those over 60 and 3% over 80.

The cause of PD is still unclear, but genes, the environment and possibly the immune system are involved.

Previous clinical trials have shown connections between autoimmune diseases, challenges with the body's immune responses, activation of inflammatory cells and immune system issues with the development of PD.

Vitiligo, another disease, causes skin to lose pigment in patches and affects .1% to 2% of people worldwide. Men and Women and all ethnicities are equally affected, often showing up before age 30.

Studies have shown a link between PD and autoimmune diseases such as vitiligo. Due to little known about this connection, researchers investigated it further.

Using two methods, researchers of the study first looked back over time to see if folks with vitiligo later developed PD. Then, they compared those with vitiligo to those without to see if they had PD before getting vitiligo.

Data was used from Clalit Health Services (CHS), the largest healthcare provider in Israel. This data included all medical records from their 4.5 million members, making it reliable for studying health patterns.

Patients with vitiligo diagnosed between 2002 and 2019 were reviewed by checking medical records. A control group of those without vitiligo who were matched by age, sex and ethnicity were also included. Health factors such as smoking and diabetes were monitored, as well.

To compare the groups, researchers used statistical tests that calculated how often PD occurred in those with and without vitiligo and used advanced models to understand the risk.

Researchers also looked at overall mortality rates and used specific analyses to see if having PD first increased the chances of developing vitiligo.

Out of the 20,851 people with vitiligo and 102,475 without it, researchers found that 2.9 out of 10,000 people with vitiligo developed PD each year, compared to 4.3 out of 10,000 people without vitiligo. Suggesting that those with vitiligo are less likely to get PD.

However, having PD first didn't change the chances of getting vitiligo. Folks with both vitiligo and PD had a higher risk of dying from any cause and more heart and metabolism issues than those with just vitiligo.

Although the study explored unknown areas in this association in Israeli patients, data is lacking on the extent, duration and severity of vitiligo and PD, and most patients share a similar ethnic background.

Additionally, there's no data on vitiligo treatments and their effect on PD risk or other autoimmune conditions.

Researchers suggest additional studies investigating the link between vitiligo and PD in other study populations from different ethnic backgrounds are necessary.

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