Public Release: 29-Mar-2017
Hepatitis B and C may be linked to increased risk of Parkinson's disease
American Academy of Neurology
The viruses hepatitis B and C may both be associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the March 29, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The hepatitis virus affects the liver.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that anywhere from 850,000 to 2.2 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis B virus infection and anywhere from 2.7 to 3.9 million people have chronic hepatitis C. While both can lead to serious illness, many people have few symptoms and do not realize they have the virus, especially at first.
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person, such as unprotected sex, sharing needles, getting a tattoo or piercing with unsterilized tools or sharing razors or toothbrushes with an infected person.
Hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood contact such as sharing needles, razors and toothbrushes and is passed on at birth by infected mothers.
"The development of Parkinson's disease is complex, with both genetic and environmental factors," said study author Julia Pakpoor, BM, BCh, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. "It's possible that the hepatitis virus itself or perhaps the treatment for the infection could play a role in triggering Parkinson's disease or it's possible that people who are susceptible to hepatitis infections are also more susceptible to Parkinson's disease. We hope that identifying this relationship may help us to better understand how Parkinson's disease develops."