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Study: Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C increase the risk of Parkinson's


Physicians are studying the effects of hepatitis on Parkinson's
Parkinson's is a common central nervous system disorder. Researchers have now found that hepatitis B and hepatitis C are associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

The researchers at the internationally recognized University of Oxford found that hepatitis B and hepatitis C increase the likelihood of developing Parkinson's. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Neurology".

How common is Parkinson's in Germany?
In Germany alone, around 300,000 people suffer from Parkinson's. Most of those affected fall ill between 50 and 70 years. An estimated 20,000 new Parkinson's diseases are added each year.

People with hepatitis have an increased risk of Parkinson's
If people are infected with hepatitis viruses, they have an up to 75 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson's, the authors explain. The nervous system is a well-known target of the viruses and once they leave the liver, a diagnosis of Parkinson's can occur, the researchers explain.

How Many People in America Have Hepatitis?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that between 850,000 and 2.2 million people in the U.S. are infected with chronic hepatitis B, while an estimated 2.7 million to 3.9 million people have chronic hepatitis C, the explain Authors.

How is hepatitis transmitted?
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with an infected person's blood and body fluids, such as unprotected sex, tattooing, or piercing with unsterile needles or aids. Sharing toothbrushes and razors with infected people can also lead to illness. Hepatitis C is transmitted only through blood-to-blood contact. Here too, needles, razors and toothbrushes are a possible route of infection. The disease can also be passed on to their children from infected pregnant mothers, the scientists say.

Many sufferers do not know about their illness
While both forms of hepatitis can lead to serious illnesses, many people have few symptoms and therefore do not know that they have the virus, the authors explain. For the current study by the University of Oxford in Great Britain, the researchers looked at the records of almost 100,000 people.

Shaking in one hand can be the first sign of Parkinson's
Parkinson's disease is a so-called progressive neurological disease. The disease develops gradually and sometimes begins with a barely noticeable tremor in one hand, the doctors say. Shivering is probably the most well-known sign of the disease, but it also often causes stiffness and a slowdown in movement.

Other signs and symptoms of Parkinson's are:
- tremor
- Slow movements
- Rigid muscles
- Impaired posture and balance
- language changes
- Changes in writing

Parkinson's has not yet been cured. But drugs can help sufferers to better deal with the disease and control their symptoms, the researchers explain.

How high is the risk of developing Parkinson's disease due to hepatitis B or C?
According to the researchers, people with hepatitis B have a 76 percent increased risk of developing Parkinson's. People with hepatitis C show a 51 percent higher risk of illness.

Exact connection is still unclear
Researchers aren't sure exactly what the connection between the virus and Parkinson's is, but they have some guesses. It is possible that the hepatitis virus itself or perhaps the treatment of the infections could play a role in triggering Parkinson's disease, the experts suspect. But it could also be that simply susceptible people to hepatitis infections are also more susceptible to Parkinson's. "We hope that identifying this relationship can help us better understand how Parkinson's disease develops," the authors add. People with autoimmune hepatitis, chronic active hepatitis, and HIV had no increased rate of Parkinson's, the researchers said. (as)

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