No one knows the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease. But recent preliminary research suggests that hepatitis may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
British scientists looked at medical records of 100,390 patients who were admitted with various forms of hepatitis or HIV from 1999 to 2011. They then looked at how many of these patients developed Parkinson’s disease. They also compared the incidence of Parkinson’s disease in other medical patients who were admitted with a surgical condition (e.g. knee replacement surgery) or medical disorder like cataracts, or varicose veins.
The results of the study published in the Journal Neurology reveal that individuals who had Hepatitis B had a 76 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and individuals with Hepatitis C had a 51 percent higher risk than the control group of individuals; those with other forms of hepatitis like Hepatitis A, E or D or HIV did not have an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.
It has not yet been determined why there is an association and why hepatitis is linked to Parkinson’s disease. Some experts feel that perhaps it may be the treatment of hepatitis that may be linked to the disease but no type of definitive link between the two conditions has been established. Until the mechanism between hepatitis and Parkinson’s disease is understood, this data remains a mystery.
An interesting question may also be as to why the researchers decided to look at the connection between hepatitis and Parkinson’s disease in the first place and why they only included hospitalised patients in their analysis.
Many questions remain unanswered with these findings. Parkinson’s disease has been well studied for the past 50 years and no one has previously made any association to any type of hepatitis. The disorder is due to damage to the part of the brain that makes dopamine, and the condition has no cure. How hepatitis could be related to depletion of dopamine or induce structural damage in the brain is not known. In any case, until more data is gathered, this study is only of academic importance and bears little clinical relevance.