There is a very common myth about Alzheimer’s diseases people have been believing in for years. Health experts, with their trials and clinical studies, have proved that flu shots do not increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, it does otherwise, as per the evidences, flu shots and pneumonia vaccines protect brain health against Alzheimer’s.
The research relies on the evidences of two studies, which were shared in the virtual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Monday. Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, asserts that they always knew vaccines are beneficial for cognitive function.
The first research took place at the University of Texas. Their aim was to find out the risk factors of diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Surprisingly, flu shots came out to be one of those factors.
Therefore, to confirm the findings, the team decided to take a closer view on the record of 9,000 at least 60 years old people. Some had flu shots before, while some did not.
They all had almost the same factors as prescriptions, income, and education. Also, they looked for possible risk factors of Alzheimer’s like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and smoking.
According to the findings, people who took at least one flu shot dropped the risk of Alzheimer’s by 17%. In addition, the ones who had regular vaccinations reduced chances further by 13%.
Albert Amran, author and an undergraduate of the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, concluded vaccines overall reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Variable Effects of the Flu Shots on the Brain
The team, however, focuses that the benefits would not be the same for all people. Amran mentions but they further have to do research to know exactly how much is needed for a protective effect.
Dr. Paul Schulz, director of the neurocognitive disorders center at McGovern, says that findings have startled many of them. No one expected to know that flu shots had such a positive significant effect on Alzheimer’s. It is totally the opposite of what they thought before research.
Schulz said they were surprised to know this as we all know a vaccine triggers inflammation. Inflammation plays a key role in intensifying the risk of Alzheimer’s. In this case, they found otherwise. On giving inflammation, participants’ responses were better.
The second study solely focused on the risk of Alzheimer’s with pneumonia vaccines and flu shots. A research group from Duke University and the University of North Carolina considered revising 5,000 medical records of at least people age 65.
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Svetlana Ukraintseva, an associate research professor in the Biodemography of Aging Research Unit at Duke’s Social Science Research Institute, found that people who took the vaccine before they hit 75 developed resistance against Alzheimer’s by 25%.
The team focuses on how pneumonia vaccines are proving to be productive for people in the older age bracket. To be noted, in addition to pneumonia vaccines, flu vaccines did not increase the response.
Possible Causes of this Protection
There has no proper research yet, which can prove the link between Alzheimer’s and vaccinations. However, a previous 2001 research in National Center for Biotechnology Information gives possible explanations.
The first explanation lies in the fact that the vaccine and flu shots are for the two diseases, which may have an adverse effect on the brain. Carrillo highlights how one challenges his memory and thinking about getting one of these infections. Research suggests that this effect can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Another explanation is about how Alzheimer’s weakens the immune system making the brain more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. These ways improve immunity and, in return, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
To know other ways, researchers, besides flu shots and pneumonia vaccines, are now working on other participants with vaccines for herpes viruses and tuberculosis.