Obsession for cleanliness could increase Alzheimer’s risk: Study

on Friday, 06 September 2013. Posted in Mental Health, News Written By: Shyamala Singh

Obsession for cleanliness could increase Alzheimer’s risk: Study

A recent study by Cambridge researchers has warned that obsession for hygiene and cleanliness could increase risk of developing Alzheimer’s irrespective of life-expectancy.

 Researchers used this study to add on to ‘hygiene hypothesis’ with respect to Alzheimer’s. They claimed that living in industrialized countries with lesser contact with viruses, bacteria and microorganisms could lead to improper development of immune system thereby increasing dementia risk and greater exposure of their brain to inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s.

The study brought out startling relation between a country’s wealth and hygiene versus higher Alzheimer’s risk in its populace. Researchers said that large urban areas in industrialized countries with high income population enjoying good hygiene exhibit higher risk of Alzheimer’s. Using ‘Age-Standardization’ data to predict Alzheimer’s rates across nations if they had same population birth rates, age structure and life expectancy; a strong relationship was established between occurrence of Alzheimer’s and national sanitation levels.

Researchers used ‘pathogen prevalence’ to explain variations in Alzheimer’s rates across 192 nations .After discounting for variations in population age structures, they proved that nations having higher sanitation levels suffered higher Alzheimer’s risk. People in France and UK having access to clean drinking water have nine percent higher risk of Alzheimer’s compared to people in Cambodia and Kenya where less than half the pollution have access.

Iceland and Switzerland which have low rates of infectious diseases suffer twelve percent higher rates of Alzheimer’s as compared to nations like Ghana and china which have high rates of infectious diseases. Australia and UK where more than three-fourths of the populace lives in urban locations have almost ten percent higher risk of Alzheimer’s as compared to countries like Nepal and Bangladesh where only one-tenth of the populace live in urban locations. Researchers concluded that variations in sanitation levels, urbanization and risk of infectious diseases accounted for 33 percent, 28 percent and 36 percent of all discrepancies in Alzheimer’s risk rates across nations. 

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