Parkinson’s disease is caused by the premature death of nigrostriatal dopamine neurons in the brain. Cancer involves cells that proliferate and refuse to die. Interestingly, research data indicate that patients with Parkinson’s disease often have a reduced risk for cancer (although exceptions exist…for example, Parkinson’s patients have been reported to have double the risk for melanoma). This opinion article reviews research data which show that similar and overlapping pathways are involved in both diseases. The authors consider these areas of convergence and discuss how insights from one disease can inform and possibly help treat both disorders.
Devine MJ, Plun-Favreau H and Wood NW: Opinion: Parkinson’s disease and cancer: two wars, one front. Nature Reviews Cancer 11: 812-823 (November 2011).