New study finds correlation between the flu vaccine and lower risk of Alzheimer’s

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A new study finds there may be a correlation between the flu vaccine and a decreased likeliness of developing Alzheimer’s.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health completed a retrospective study on patients 65 and older and found patients who routinely received the vaccine had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia.

As found in the study, people who received consecutive flu vaccines had a 20% risk reduction in developing Alzheimer’s, according to Jesse Bracamonte, M.D at Mayo Clinic Arizona. Furthermore, if a person had six vaccines over the age of 65, their risk reduction increased to 40% in reducing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The exact reason for the correlation between the flu vaccine and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s dementia is being studied further.

However, “we think it has to do with the immune response. We do know that infections such as funguses, bacteria or viruses cause the brain to get some form of inflammation. This inflammation causes the neurons, which are the brain cells, to degenerate. We think that if you get the flu vaccine, your chance of getting an infection decreases. The severity decreases. But more importantly, your body’s immune reaction to certain inflammation of the brain decreases substantially, therefore not leading to the downstream effects of leading to Alzheimer’s/dementia,” Bracamonte said.

The same research has looked at more studies on vaccines in general, according to Bracamonte, including pneumococcal, tetanus and shingles.

“Getting vaccinations at 65 and older overall prevents the chance of developing dementia as you age,” Bracamonte said.

For adults in general who had their vaccines up-to-date, the study shows that it helped them prevent developing Alzheimer’s/dementia later in life.

Jesse Bracamonte, M.D, Mayo Clinic Arizona

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