Scientists Believe Common Stomach Bug Could Cause Dementia

( – A common stomach bacteria may be responsible for some dementia patients’ cognitive decline, according to a new study. Heliobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that lives in the stomach. It can be transmitted by uncooked food, contaminated water, or by close physical or intimate contact.

A significant chunk of the population carries the bacteria and normally it results in no problems. There are a minority of people who develop stomach ulcers in their digestive tract at some point during their life. Some others may also have indigestion or other IBS symptoms, but now scientists believe H. pylori could be responsible for mental decline as well.

The study found that older individuals with H. pylori were 11% more likely than non-carriers to develop Alzheimer’s disease, a common type of dementia. They showed that the risk was the highest between seven to 10 years post-infection.

They said the current research isn’t proof that the bacteria is directly causing the dementia symptoms, but said that the data was indicative that there’s more going on than we currently understand. The researchers speculated that the bacteria could travel into the brain or trigger inflammatory responses which would inhibit their regular cognitive functioning.

Another potential avenue for triggering dementia is interference with the body’s ability to absorb crucial nutrients like vitamin B12 and iron, both of which are lacking in patients with the disease.

Dr Paul Brassard from McGill’s Department of Medicine said that he hoped the findings could offer insight into the role of H. pylori in the development of dementia and offer new avenues to prevent the disease from manifesting in future patients.

The planet’s population is aging one day at a time and older adults are expected to make up a larger chunk of the population than ever before. Brassard pointed out that the number of dementia patients could triple over the next few decades unless research like his yields effective countermeasures.

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