Researchers found that vaccines may reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s and related diseases by boosting the immune system
Flu shots could lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, according to a new study.
“Vaccines are the great public health success story of our generation,” Paul E. Schulz, leader of several of the studies and professor of neurology and director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Center at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston said, per The Washington Post.
“They keep you safe from any number of infections, many of which can be life-threatening. And now it appears there is another tremendous benefit, this one against a disease that is among the most feared.”
In his research, Schulz tracked two groups for up to eight years — one that received flu vaccines and the other that did not — and discovered a large difference in the rate of the groups developing Alzheimer’s disease.
And according to another study by ScienceDirect, recipients of flu vaccinations — compared to unvaccinated recipients — are “associated with lower risk of dementia.”
“This is consistent with the hypotheses that vaccinations may reduce risk of dementia by training the immune system and not by preventing specific infectious disease,” according to the study.
It's not just flu shots: Vaccinations for other diseases — pneumonia, whooping cough, tetanus and shingles — may also help prevent various types of dementia, according to studies.
“Fewer plaques lead to less inflammation and less brain cell loss,” Schulz said, per The Washington Post. “We aren’t sure yet exactly what the mechanism is, but something is going on with the brain and the immune system that seems to make a big difference.”
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The studies “suggest long-term benefits from immunizations with vaccines that may go beyond the intended direct benefits,” Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, said, per The Washington Post.
“In some cases, they may prevent viruses from causing direct neurological involvement, especially for neurotropic viruses, or indirectly through brain inflammation that can result from pathogens,” he added. “In other cases, they may stimulate innate immune mechanisms that may be protective against the sequence of events leading to dementia.”
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