What if the flu shot and the pneumonia shot had other unexpected powers? In any case, this is what new research unveiled at the international conference dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease suggests. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are at the forefront of public health discussions. It is important to explore their benefits not only for protect yourself against viral or bacterial infections, but also to improve long-term health outcomes“, explained Dr. Maria Carrillo, scientific director of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Thus, according to the findings presented, at least one influenza vaccination has been associated with 17% reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, for people vaccinated more than once against the flu, an additional reduction of 13% was seen by the researchers. “Our study suggests that regular use of a very accessible and relatively inexpensive intervention – flu vaccine – can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia“said Albert Amran, fourth-year medical student at McGovern, in a statement. Before adding: “More research is needed to explore the biological mechanism for this effect – why and how it works in the body – which is important as we explore effective preventive therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.“.
A double vaccination without result
Regarding the pneumonia vaccination, the researchers found that patients who received this vaccine before the age of 75 were between 25 and 30% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The greatest reduction, up to 40%, was seen in people who were vaccinated and did not carry a gene that increases the risk of disease. To be clear, getting the flu shot in addition to pneumonia has not further reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“The vaccines against pneumonia before the age of 75 may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s later in life, depending on the individual genotype. These data suggest that the pneumococcal vaccine may be a promising candidate for personalized prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, in particular in non-carriers of certain genes at risk“said lead author of the study, Dr. Svetlana Ukraintseva, associate research professor in the Biodemography of Aging Research Unit at the Social Sciences Research Institute at Duke University.
How do you explain the link between vaccination and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease? Some researchers point out that the vaccine may help strengthen the immune system thus bringing a additional protection to the brain against decline. What’s more, scientists believe it’s also possible that a major infection, such as a bad episode of pneumonia, could accelerate the onset of dementia in people already at risk.
Results considered promising for the prevention of the disease in the future. “It could turn out to be as simple as taking care of your health in this way – by getting the vaccine – and taking care of yourself in other ways, and it all adds up to reducing the risk of the disease occurring. Alzheimer’s and other dementia disorders“, said Dr. Maria Carrillo. Before concluding:”This research, although early, requires further studies in large and diverse clinical trials to find out whether vaccinations as a public health strategy reduce our risk of developing dementia as we age.“.