LIFESTYLE & COMMUNITY

One Common Condition May Double The Risk Of Developing Alzheimer’s, Studies Suggest

Date June 29, 2018 14:27

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s: a family history, depression, lack of sleep, and… herpes?

Science already knows a lot about Alzheimer’s disease, yet so much still remains to be discovered. Researchers still have no idea what causes this common form of dementia; this is why we still don’t know how to prevent and treat it.

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However, there are several factors that have been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. These include a family history of the condition, head injury, poor diet, lower education, chronic sleep deprivation, and depression. Some researchers suggest that there could be another risk factor: certain viruses and bacteria. Recent studies have focused on one particular germ: herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1).

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Studies suggest a link between cold sores and Alzheimer’s

As many of us know, cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus 1. HSV1 is very common; it’s estimated that about 90% of people have it. Once you become infected, the virus stays in your body for the rest of your life. Sometimes, it becomes active again and causes cold sores to appear on the lips.

Although it’s rare, the virus may cause encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain. People with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of herpes encephalitis.

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One theory suggests that herpes virus can trigger inflammation in the brain, which in turn starts the process that causes amyloid plaques to form. Amyloid plaques are found in large numbers in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

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One popular study conducted by researchers from Umeå University in Sweden found that reactivated HSV1 almost doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

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Swedish researchers and their colleagues who conducted other studies on the link between herpes virus and Alzheimer's are cautious in their conclusions. As most of them say, “association does not prove causality.

Anyway, that’s an interesting finding, which may lead researchers to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and better treatments.

Source: Cleveland Clinic, NHS UK, WebMD

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.