Common Diabetes Drugs May Reduce Risk of Parkinson's

Patients who used glitazones were 28% less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson's than those who never took one of the medications.
Patients who used glitazones were 28% less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson's than those who never took one of the medications.

HealthDay News — Use of glitazones, a class of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes, may help protect against Parkinson's disease, according to new research published online July 21 in PLOS Medicine.

The study included 44,597 British patients with diabetes who took glitazones. Researchers compared the medical records of those patients against the records of 120,373 patients with diabetes who did not take a glitazone. The investigators tracked these records from 1999 — when glitazones were introduced to treat diabetes — until 2013.

During that time, patients who used glitazones were 28% less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease than those who never took one of the medications, the researchers found. This association between glitazones and lower risk of Parkinson's remained even after the researchers adjusted for known predictors of Parkinson's, such as smoking and head injury.

However, when the investigators looked at past and current glitazone users separately, they found that the lower risk of Parkinson's was seen only in people currently using a glitazone (a 41% lower risk of Parkinson's), not in those who had previously used glitazones but had stopped or switched to another class of diabetes drugs.

This suggests that any benefit wears off once a person goes off the drugs, according to the team led by Ruth Brauer, MD, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in London.

Reference

Brauer R, et al. Glitazone Treatment and Incidence of Parkinson's Disease among People with Diabetes: A Retrospective Cohort Study. PLOS Medicine. 2015; doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001854.

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