No Association Between Gout and Parkinson’s in Korean Study

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by Marisa Wexler |

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Gout does not increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to an analysis based on insurance data in Korea.

The analysis indicates, however, that people who have had a stroke and those with high blood pressure might have a higher Parkinson’s risk.

Results were published in the study “Clinical Association between Gout and Parkinson’s Disease: A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study in Korea,” in Medicina.

Gout is an inflammatory disease that causes severe joint pain. While inflammation is thought to be involved in the development of Parkinson’s disease, any connection between gout and Parkinson’s is unclear.

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Using the Korean National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) database, a team led by scientists at Chungbuk National University identified 327,160 people diagnosed with gout between 2003 and 2017. To ensure accuracy, the analysis was limited to patients who had a recorded diagnosis for gout and had also been prescribed medication for it.

For comparison, they identified an equal number of people without gout (controls). In both groups, the majority of patients were male, and there was a wide range of ages.

Compared with the controls, significantly more gout patients had diabetes (57% vs. 40%), high blood pressure (65% vs. 40%), or heart disease (31% vs. 22%), and more had experienced a stroke (10.7% vs. 8.5%).

Using NHIS data from 2002 to 2019, the researchers then looked among the two groups for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Over the studied period, 912 patients with gout and 929 controls developed Parkinson’s; statistical analyses showed no difference in the risk of Parkinson’s between the groups.

Other statistical analyses showed that older age was linked to a higher risk of Parkinson’s, as were high blood pressure (hypertension) and stroke. In fact, statistical models estimated that people who have had a stroke are nearly twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s.

Results also suggested that female sex was tied to an increased risk of Parkinson’s. Though they cautioned that this study is limited by the relatively low number of female patients in the analysis, the researchers noted that studies done in Europe and North America have generally shown Parkinson’s risk is higher in males, but studies in Asia have generally not found such a difference.

This suggests “that sex differences [in Parkinson’s risk] may exist according to race/ethnicity,” the researchers wrote.

Dyslipidemia, or abnormally high blood fat levels, was associated with a significantly decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease in the analysis. The team speculated that this may be because some fats are used to help repair damaged nerve cells, but it noted a need for more research into this connection.

“Age, female sex, stroke, and hypertension were identified as independent risk factors for PD [Parkinson’s disease], and dyslipidemia exhibited an inverse result for PD,” the scientists concluded. “Further research is warranted to verify our findings.”

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