(LibertySociety.com) – A new study conducted by researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom revealed that lonely people have a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Other risk factors such as genetic predisposition and those who were clinically depressed were independent from the findings, according to the study. Between 2006 and 2021, researchers followed a total of 491,603 patients. Their ages ranged from 38 to 73. Participants who reported that they “often feel lonely” were found to be 37 percent more likely to develop the disease than those who said they were not lonely.
Researchers have long suspected that loneliness is linked to developing Parkinson’s, but this study is a first of its kind. The researchers said that the results of the study add the disease to mounting evidence that being lonely is a “substantial psychosocial determinant of health.” One of the co-authors of the study, Antonio Terracciano, said that adults in the United States who were also studied showed comparable results to the British participants from previous studies. Researchers said that having Parkinson’s disease could also make people feel lonely, but the follow-up assessments showed that it was unlikely to be the case. Of the people who reported feelings of loneliness at the beginning of the study, 2,822 eventually developed Parkinson’s disease.
Male participants in the study were also more likely to develop the disease. This finding is consistent with previous studies of Parkinson’s disease. The Parkinson’s Foundation has reported that men have a 1.5 times greater risk of developing the disease than women. However, women are also often misdiagnosed. Women often report symptoms that are similar to Parkinson’s disease symptoms but could just be a part of aging. Symptoms like restless leg syndrome, urinary incontinence, problems sleeping, as well as anxiety and depression can often lead to misdiagnosis. Hormones play a role when women develop Parkinson’s, with evidence of higher estrogen levels decreasing the likelihood of developing the disease.
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