Home » Does herpes cause Alzheimer’s? Researchers show frightening connections

Does herpes cause Alzheimer’s? Researchers show frightening connections

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Does herpes cause Alzheimer’s?  Researchers show frightening connections

Herpes viruses are among the most widespread viruses of all. Its numerous representatives include the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and shingles, as well as the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes Pfeiffer’s glandular fever and is also linked to the development of cancer.

Herpes viruses remain in the body for life

But the best known are the herpes simplex viruses: While type 1 (HSV-1) causes annoying blisters in the mouth, type 2 (HSV-2) causes these blisters to appear in the genital area. Type 1 can also be transmitted to the genital area.

The common thing about it: Herpes viruses nest in the nerve cells, remain in the body for life and therefore always cause trouble. This means: If the body is weakened by an infection such as a cold etc. or stress, the blisters will appear again and again with HSV. In Germany, around 90 percent of adults are infected with herpes viruses. Many never experience symptoms.

HPV-1 is already suspected of being involved in Alzheimer’s disease

But these are just the visible signs that herpes simplex viruses cause. It has long been suspected that they could also be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. However, only type 1 has been examined in this context so far. Studies have found that people with HSV-1 have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Columbia study: cerebral cortex thinner in HPV-2 infected people

Now researchers at the renowned Columbia University in New York have also taken a closer look at type 2 in this regard. In a study published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences, researchers evaluated data from 455 people. They were on average 70 years old and proven to be infected with HPV-2.

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Using blood tests and brain scans, the researchers were able to determine that the cerebral cortex was thinner in those infected with HPV-2 than in those who were not infected. This connection remained even after risk factors such as smoking and low level of education etc. could be excluded.

HSV-2 accelerates brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases

The cerebral cortex is the outer layer of the cerebrum, which is responsible, among other things, for sensory perception, memory and other cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s affects exactly this part of the brain. There, proteins are deposited in the nerve cells, which in the long term lead to the death of these cells.

“Our results suggest that herpes simplex virus 2 seropositivity may contribute to accelerated brain aging, potentially leading to increased susceptibility to cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases in aging populations,” the study said. Dementia and its most common form, Alzheimer’s, are such neurodegenerative diseases.

However, the study does not prove whether HSV-2 directly causes dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It only shows a connection because it is a so-called correlation study. However, previous research has shown that herpes simplex 1 and 2 have a negative impact on cognitive abilities.

How to protect yourself from herpes viruses

There is currently no approved vaccine against herpes simplex viruses. However, a vaccine against herpes simplex-2 from Biontech, for example, is already in clinical trials.

Herpes viruses are easily transmitted – through droplet infection and smear infection during close contact such as kissing or sex. Or by touching the bubbles. Herpes can also be transmitted by sharing glasses and cutlery. Therefore, you should definitely avoid coming into contact with the bubbles. Wearing condoms can reduce transmission during sex.

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Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s – with these 12 tips

Age is considered the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s. However, there are many factors that reduce the risk of the disease. As the Alzheimer Research Initiative eV informs, studies have shown that people are less likely to develop it if they follow the following twelve tips:

1. Movement: What’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. This includes getting enough exercise – at least 2.5 hours per week is ideal.

2. Mental Fitness: Learn new things – even as you get older. This keeps your brain busy. Whether it’s a musical instrument, a language or using a computer, try something new.

3. Healthy diet: Follow the classic Mediterranean diet. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, olive oil and nuts. Choose fish instead of red meat.

4. Social contacts: Activities are more fun as a couple or in a group and your gray cells are challenged. Arrange to meet up to do sports, play music, play cards or cook together.

5. Reduce excess weight: Be careful not to weigh too many kilos. A healthy diet and regular exercise will help you with this.

6. Enough sleep: Make sure you get good, sufficient sleep so that the brain can break down harmful substances and recover.

7. Don’t smoke: Smoking also damages your brain. Stop smoking, it’s never too late.

8. Avoid Head Injuries: Take care of your head in everyday life and during sport and, for example, wear a helmet when riding a bike.

9. Check high blood pressure: Have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure should definitely be treated.

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10. Check Diabetes: Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels. If it is permanently too high, you should take action in consultation with your doctor.

11. Treat Depression: Take good care of yourself. If you feel listless or depressed for a long period of time, it makes sense to see your doctor to clarify the cause. Depression should not go untreated.

12. Pay attention to hearing loss: Take it seriously if you notice that your hearing is getting worse. With a hearing aid you can easily correct declining hearing ability.

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