Findings of a new study suggest that rosacea is associated with increased risk for Parkinson's disease, a central nervous system disorder marked by tremors, impaired balance, slowed movements and thinking problems that can grow worse over time.

In a new study published in JAMA Neurology on March 21, Alexander Egeberg from the University of Copenhagen and colleagues gathered more than 5.4 million individuals to look at the risk of Parkinson's disease in those who suffer from rosacea, a chronic skin condition marked by redness in the face.

The researchers found that the incidence rate of Parkinson's disease per 10,000 person-years in patients with rosacea was 7.62, which is significantly greater than the 3.54 incidence rate in the general population. They also observed that Parkinson's is likely to occur 2.4 years earlier in those with rosacea.

"Rosacea is a common facial skin disorder affecting up to 10 percent of light-skinned individuals, women in particular," Egeberg said. "It is possible that rosacea, or rosacea-associated features, such as facial flushing, may contribute to Parkinson's disease diagnosis at an early stage."

The researchers likewise found that the link between the two conditions was associated with rosacea itself and not the medicines used for treatment. Egeberg and colleagues also observed that taking the common rosacea treatment tetracycline was linked with reduced Parkinson's risk among patients.

The researchers think that rosacea boosts the level of an enzyme that breaks down protein and also plays a role in Parkinson's disease. Figuring out the connection between the two conditions, however, is difficult because researchers have yet to find out the real cause of both conditions.

Experts, however, warned that this does not mean that having rosacea can set off Parkinson's disease. Neurologist Martin Niethammer from Northwell Health's Neuroscience Institute said that the research does not prove a causal relationship between rosacea and Parkinson's disease. It merely showed an association between the two conditions.

Writing in a related editorial, Thomas Wingo from the Emory University said that further studies are needed to confirm the researchers' observations.

"Although this link may very well be true, what is needed at this time is for another cohort to replicate the findings of Egeberg et al, as they suggest," Wingo wrote. "In addition, their intriguing finding that increased tetracycline use is associated with a small but appreciable reduction in the risk of PD should be further explored."

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