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Study: Prostate drug appears to reduce Parkinson’s risk

March 4, 2021

Man outside in the sun

Parkinson’s disease has no known cure and its cause is largely unknown. Still, there’s positive news: A new study indicates that men who take terazosin and similar medications for an enlarged prostate have a reduced likelihood of developing the neurogenerative disorder.

In an observational study of 300,000 men in U.S. and Danish databases, researchers used data on two groups of 150,000 men: one whose members had been started on terazosin or similar prostate drugs that enhance cellular energy levels, and another whose members had been started on a prostate drug that does not (tamsulosin).

“Men taking terazosin were 12% to 37% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease during follow-up than men taking tamsulosin,” explains Jacob Simmering, PhD, University of Iowa (UI) assistant professor of internal medicine and corresponding author of the study.

Researchers also found that longer use of the energy-enhancing prostate drugs was associated with increased protective effects, according to UI. The findings build on previous preclinical research by the team, which showed that terazosin enhances cellular energy levels and can prevent or slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease in animal models.

Curated patient data is critical for discovery

Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year, and more than 10 million people worldwide are living with the condition, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Patients may experience tremors, slowness of movement, limb rigidity and gait/balance problems. Men are 1.5 times more likely to have the disease than women. Genetics cause about 10 to 15% of all Parkinson’s; environmental factors associated with the disease include head injury, exposure to pesticides and area of residence.

A lot of what researchers now know about prostate medicine and Parkinson’s is extracted from carefully curated patient data, which is a major focus here at iSpecimen. We take pains to annotate every human biospecimen we offer with as much de-identified patient data as possible. We also realize that specimens – e.g., blood draws, urine samples, tumor tissue – are the source of much of the data that is collected in large-population databases.

A prostate drug that apparently affects Parkinson’s: not what everyone would have expected. We hope that researchers discover many more surprising hidden benefits of drugs that were originally developed for other purposes.

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