Severe flu increases risk of Parkinson's: research

July 20, 2012, University of British Columbia

Severe influenza doubles the odds that a person will develop Parkinson's disease later in life, according to University of British Columbia researchers.

However, the opposite is true for people who contracted a typical case of red as children – they are 35 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson's, a nervous system disorder marked by slowness of movement, shaking, stiffness, and in the later stages, loss of balance.

The findings by researchers at UBC's School of Population and Public Health and the Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre, published online this month in the journal Movement Disorders, are based on interviews with 403 Parkinson's patients and 405 healthy people in British Columbia, Canada.

Lead author Anne Harris also examined whether occupational exposure to vibrations – such as operating construction equipment – had any effect on the risk of Parkinson's. In another study, published online this month by the American Journal of Epidemiology, she and her collaborators reported that occupational exposure actually decreased the risk of developing the disease by 33 percent, compared to people whose jobs involved no exposure.

Meanwhile, Harris found that those exposed to high-intensity vibrations – for example, by driving snowmobiles, military tanks or high-speed boats – had a consistently higher risk of developing Parkinson's than people whose jobs involved lower-intensity vibrations (for example, operating road vehicles). The elevated risk fell short of the statistical significance typically used to establish a correlation, but was strong and consistent enough to suggest an avenue for further study, Harris says.

"There are no cures or prevention programs for Parkinson's, in part because we still don't understand what triggers it in some people and not others," says Harris, who conducted the research while earning her doctorate at UBC. "This kind of painstaking epidemiological detective work is crucial in identifying the mechanisms that might be at work, allowing the development of effective prevention strategies."

Explore further: People with Parkinson's disease may have double the risk for melanoma

Related Stories

People with Parkinson's disease may have double the risk for melanoma

June 6, 2011
An analysis of several studies shows that people with Parkinson's disease have a significantly higher risk of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer and the leading cause of death from skin diseases. The research ...

Specific solvents may increase risk of Parkinson's disease

June 27, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Exposure to specific solvents is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the June issue of the Annals of Neurology.

People with Parkinson's more likely to have leg restlessness than restless leg syndrome

November 9, 2011
People with Parkinson's disease may be more likely to have a movement disorder called leg motor restlessness, but not true restless legs syndrome as previous studies have suggested, according to a study published in the Nov. ...

Recommended for you

Investigators eye new target for treating movement disorders

January 19, 2018
Blocking a nerve-cell receptor in part of the brain that coordinates movement could improve the treatment of Parkinson's disease, dyskinesia and other movement disorders, researchers at Vanderbilt University have reported.

Parkinson's disease 'jerking' side effect detected by algorithm

January 8, 2018
A mathematical algorithm that can reliably detect dyskinesia, the side effect from Parkinson's treatment that causes involuntary jerking movements and muscle spasms, could hold the key to improving treatment and for patients ...

New brainstem changes identified in Parkinson's disease

January 4, 2018
A pioneering study has found that patients with Parkinson's disease have more errors in the mitochondrial DNA within the brainstem, leading to increased cell death in that area.

Caffeine level in blood may help diagnose people with Parkinson's disease

January 3, 2018
Testing the level of caffeine in the blood may provide a simple way to aid the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the January 3, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

Researchers shed light on why exercise slows progression of Parkinson's disease

December 22, 2017
While vigorous exercise on a treadmill has been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients, the molecular reasons behind it have remained a mystery.

Robotic device improves balance and gait in Parkinson's disease patients

December 19, 2017
Some 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) every year. The American Institute of Neurology estimates there are one million people affected with this neurodegenerative disorder, with 60 years ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.