Severe flu may double Parkinson's risk

Incidence of severe flu may double the odds of getting Parkinson's disease later in life, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Pacific Parkinson's Research Center.

The findings from the two institutes are the result of interviews with 405 healthy people and 403 Parkinson's patients in Canada. The study also examined whether or not occupational exposure to vibrations like the operation of construction equipment, had an effect on Parkinson's risk, IANS reports.

"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 in others," Anne Harris, the leader of the study from UBC, said, according to IANS.

The study found that respondents infected with red measles as children were 35 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's. In an additional study, Harris and her team found that occupational exposure to vibrations decreased the risk of the disease by 33 percent. People exposed to high-intensity vibrations, such as in the driving of snowmobiles, high-speed boats or battle tanks, had a consistently higher risk of developing the condition.

Parkinson's disease is a nervous system disorder marked by slow movement, shaking, stiffness and a loss of balance. The disease is caused by the destruction of brain cells that transmit dopamine. This prevents the brain from transmitting messages to muscles and usually affects people over the age of 50.