Having diabetes may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Finnish researchers have found that people with type 2 diabetes were more than 80 percent more likely to be later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease than others.

It’s the first major prospective study to suggest that diabetes may be a risk factor of Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disease that causes muscle rigidity and tremors.

Researchers say the exact nature of the relationship between diabetes and Parkinson’s disease is unclear, but several lifestyle factors may be associated with both disorders, such as being overweight, cigarette smoking, and lack of physical activity.

“It could be hypothesized that diabetes might increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease partly through excess body weight,” writes researcher Gang Hu, MD, PhD, of the National Public Health Institute in Finland, and colleagues in Diabetes Care.

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Diabetes Boosts Parkinson’s Risk

In the study, researchers followed a group of more than 50,000 men and women in Finland over a period of 18 years. During that time, 324 men and 309 women developed Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers found people who had type 2 diabetes at the start of the study were much more likely to be later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Overall, after adjusting for other possible risk factors for Parkinson’s disease, men and women with type 2 diabetes were 83 percent more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those without it.

Although common lifestyle factors may play a role, researchers say more study is needed to fully understand the relationship between diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

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