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High blood urate reduces Parkinson's risk

21st June 2007

A new study by the Harvard School of Public Health has revealed a link between high blood levels of urate and a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

Urate is a natural component of blood, but too much can lead to gout.

The research found that men in the top quartile of blood urate concentration had a 55 per cent lower risk of developing Parkinson's, supporting findings from a previous study.

Marc Weisskopf, assistant professor at HSPH, said: "This is the strongest evidence to date that urate may protect against Parkinson's disease."

It is thought that urate's antioxidant properties may decrease the effects of oxidative stress which impacts on dopamine-producing brain cells, a process occurring in Parkinson's sufferers.

Alberto Ascherio, also of the HSPH, said: "It is still uncertain whether urate exerts a neuroprotective effect, but approaches to elevating urate levels are nonetheless worth considering as a potential neuroprotective strategy.

"But elevating blood urate increases the risk of kidney stones and may have adverse cardiovascular effects and should only be attempted in the context of closely monitored randomised trial until beneficial effects are proven."