A history of constipation might predict future development of Parkinson’s disease, according to a Mayo Clinic study reported by Reuters Health.  

Parkinson’s is a degenerative brain disease known to alter the autonomic nervous system. (The autonomic nervous system controls body processes such as heart rate, digestion, salivation and bowel function.)

For the study, researchers compared the constipation histories of 196 Parkinson’s disease patients with those of people from the same-age group without the disease.  

Researchers discovered that people with Parkinson’s disease were twice as likely to have experienced constipation as people without Parkinson’s. (This was the case regardless of factors such as age, smoking, coffee drinking and using constipation-inducing drugs.)

Investigators said the findings suggest constipation is an early sign of Parkinson’s degenerative process.  

But since constipation isn’t a specific marker for Parkinson’s, said Mayo Clinic neurologist Walter A. Rocca, MD, the study’s team leader, further research is needed to evaluate and confirm a possible link between the two conditions.

Learn how exercise can get your bowels moving here.