New Study Finds Digestive Problems Increase Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
A new study has revealed that individuals with digestive problems, such as constipation and difficulty swallowing, are twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. While previous research has shown a connection between gastrointestinal issues and diseases like Alzheimer’s, strokes, and brain aneurysms, this study is the first to specifically focus on the relationship between gastrointestinal conditions and Parkinson’s.
Conducted by researchers who compared the medical records of over 24,000 people with Parkinson’s, 19,000 with Alzheimer’s, and 23,000 with cerebrovascular disease, the study aimed to investigate the frequency of gut conditions leading up to diagnosis. The results showed that patients with constipation, dysphagia, and gastroparesis were more than twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s within five years of diagnosis.
Furthermore, individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) without diarrhea had a 17% higher risk of developing Parkinson’s. Various other gastrointestinal symptoms, including functional dyspepsia, IBS with diarrhea, and diarrhea with fecal incontinence, were also more common among patients who later developed Parkinson’s, in addition to other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, aneurysms, or strokes.
Interestingly, the study did not find an increased likelihood of Parkinson’s in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease. It was also observed that patients who had their appendix removed were actually less likely to develop Parkinson’s.
Experts suggest that these findings should prompt doctors to be mindful of gut conditions when evaluating patients at risk for Parkinson’s, even before traditional neurological symptoms appear. However, caution is advised as the study’s findings are purely correlative.
The results of this study contribute to the growing body of evidence that suggests gut problems can serve as early warning signs of Parkinson’s. These findings may open up opportunities for early detection and targeted treatment approaches. It is estimated by Parkinson’s UK that there will be approximately 172,000 people in the UK living with the disease by 2030, while the World Health Organization reports that there are currently 8.5 million people globally living with Parkinson’s.
In conclusion, this research highlights the importance of considering digestive problems as potential indicators of Parkinson’s disease. By recognizing and addressing these early warning signs, healthcare professionals may be able to provide earlier interventions and potentially improve patient outcomes.