by in Health

Good hygiene could cause Alzheimer’s  A new study by the University of Cambridge has found Alzheimer’s disease could be caused by better hygiene in developed nations.

The study found people who lived in industrialised, wealthier nations were more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and a lack of bacteria could be the reason.

In wealthier nations there is less contact with bacteria and viruses, leading to a weaker immune system and higher risk of brain inflammation.

Lead author of the study, Dr Molly Fox, said,

 “The ‘hygiene hypothesis’, which suggests a relationship between cleaner environments and a higher risk of certain allergies and autoimmune diseases, is well established. We believe we can now add Alzheimer’s to this list of diseases.”

“There are important implications for forecasting future global disease burden, especially in developing countries as they increase in sanitation.”

In countries with clean drinking water and higher sanitation the rate of Alzheimer’s disease increases 9%, compared to countries where less than half have access to these facilities.

Countries with lower rates of infectious diseases there is a 12% increase in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s compared to countries with higher rates.

With 50% of all Alzheimer’s patients living in the developed world studies such as this have been trying to find out the connection between the two.

Dr Fox said,

“The increase in adult life expectancy and Alzheimer’s prevalence in developing countries is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of our time. Today, more than 50% of people with Alzheimer’s live in the developing world, and by 2025 it is expected that this figure will rise to more than 70%,”

“A better understanding of how environmental sanitation influences Alzheimer’s risk could open up avenues for both lifestyle and pharmaceutical strategies to limit Alzheimer’s prevalence. An awareness of this by-product of increasing wealth and development could encourage the innovation of new strategies to protect vulnerable populations from Alzheimer’s.”

Hygiene is just one possible reason for developed nations having weaker immune systems and while the study didn’t consider these it’s worth thinking about.

For example the same developed nations also have higher rates of vaccination which would also affect the immune system as well as antibiotics.

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