Could Getting Your Flu Shot Help Prevent Alzheimer’s?

According to some recent studies, annual flu shots can be beneficial as more than just a way to protect patients against the flu; it can help protect against Alzheimer’s disease. People who received a shot at least once every four years had a 40% decreased change in developing Alzheimer’s over the course of the four-year period. The initial hypothesis is that the reduction or prevention of infection could be reducing the risk of damage to the brain caused by the flu. This is particularly true for patients who were over 65 years old. It is thought that vaccinations can also work to reduce the risk of other types of dementia.

Findings also suggest that other common types of vaccinations, such as tetanus and shingles, could have similar effects in preventing different forms of dementias. However, they do not seem to be as effective as the flu vaccinations (most of these other regular shots aren’t given as often, with tetanus only being recommended between once every 7 to 10 years.) Though there is nothing that specifically points to the flu shot being a means of helping protect the brain, there were almost 1 million patients who were included in the study. It is noted that there are other factors that need to be taken into account, such as a healthier lifestyle, though the researchers did work to eliminate this as much as possible so that it was less likely to be a factor in the study’s findings.

The reason why the head researcher, Dr. Avram Bukhbinder, believes that the vaccine plays a role is that it works with the immune system, which would have overlap with the ability to attack proteins in the brain that are likely to contribute to Alzheimer’s. The COVID-19 vaccine may have a similar effect, but it is far too early to be able to see the effect of this vaccine since it is still so new and there aren’t nearly as many data points over a longer period of time.

The study itself found that of the 1 million patients monitored, 9% of those who did not receive the vaccine developed Alzheimer’s, compared to only 5% of those who had the shot developing the disease. As one medical professional pointed out, the decision to get the vaccine may point to patients who are more likely to make better health decisions and exercise healthier behaviors, which could be the thing that is making them less likely to develop the disease. This is why studies will continue to determine how and if vaccination is one of the contributors to reduce risk of this disease.

To read the full article, you can check it out at Could Getting Your Flu Shot Help Prevent Alzheimer’s?.

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