Flu jab could reduce Alzheimer’s risk by a fifth

The protective benefit is stronger in those who receive the vaccine at a younger age and often

A research centre at NYU Abu Dhabi that looks into proteins that could treat Alzheimer's Disease. Courtesy: NYU Abu Dhabi
A research centre at NYU Abu Dhabi that looks into proteins that could treat Alzheimer's Disease. Courtesy: NYU Abu Dhabi

The influenza jab could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by a fifth, according to the first comprehensive study of its kind.

Research presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggests that the protective qualities of the vaccine are strongest for those who receive their first shots at a younger age and had them frequently.

Albert Amran, a medical student who carried out the study at The University of Texas, said it suggested that regular use of an accessible and relatively cheap intervention – the ‘flu shot – may significantly reduce risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.

“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,” he said.

Dr Maria Carrillo, the chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Association, said that with vaccines currently central in public health discourse it was important to explore their benefit “in not only protecting against viral or bacterial infection but also improving long-term health outcomes”.

“It may turn out to be as simple as if you’re taking care of your health in this way – getting vaccinated – you’re also taking care of yourself in other ways, and these things add up to lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” Dr Carrillo said.

“This research, while early, calls for further studies in large, diverse clinical trials to inform whether vaccinations as a public health strategy decrease our risk for developing dementia as we age.”

Published: July 27, 2020 08:14 PM

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