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Picking your nose can increase your risk of Alzheimer's

Picking your nose can increase your risk of Alzheimer's

May 15, 2023
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The fight against Alzheimer's is one of the topics that is most engaging science in recent years. Each new research brings out precious allies, such as an active lifestyle, a diet rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods and probiotics for the well-being of the gut microbiota, to reduce the risk of dementia. And from today we know that there is also a harmful habit that should be limited as much as possible to keep Alzheimer's at bay in the years to come, that is to pick the nose and pluck the hairs inside the nostrils, thus damaging the protective mucosa. This emerges from a recent scientific research that appeared in the prestigious journal Scientific Report of the Nature group thanks to the work of an Australian team from Griffith University (Chacko et al, Scientific Report, 2022).

Alzheimer, could the cause also be a bacterium?

Australian research focused on the action of a bacterium, Chlamydia pneumoniae. Chlamydia pneumoniae is a respiratory tract pathogen and is responsible for 20% of infectious pneumonias and for 5% of bronchitis, pharyngitis and sinusitis. In recent years, however, science has also associated this bacterium with other diseases, such as asthma, arteriosclerosis, inflammatory arthritis, multiple sclerosis and even Alzheimer's. Indeed, according to studies, as many as 90% of people with dementia have this bacterium in their brain, compared to 5% of people of the same age but without dementia. Therefore, these data lead to suppose a link between the presence of this bacterium and the onset of Alzheimer's. To better investigate this hypothesis and to try to understand how the bacterium can reach the brain, Australian scientists have elaborated the research we are talking about today.

From the nose the bacteria reach the brain, the study

The research was carried out in the laboratory on a population of mice. The mice's nasal cavity was placed in contact with the Chlamydia pneumoniae bacterium. Well, what emerged was that already after 72 hours the bacterium had infected the olfactory and trigeminal nerves and that this infection was more extensive in case of alteration of the lining of the nasal mucosa. Not only that, the bacterium had managed to pass from the nerves to the brain. But most importantly, within a month of infection, accumulations of amyloid beta proteins, which are toxic to the brain and are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, had appeared in the brains of the mice. Thus, research has shown that the Chlamydia pneumoniae bacterium from the nose can reach the brain and activate processes here that can, over the years, increase the risk of Alzheimer's.

Why it's important not to pick your nose

The scientists leading the research stressed that the study was carried out on mice but that the results can also be extended to humans due to the similarity of the olfactory system. Not only that, what emerged indicates that picking your nose and pulling the hairs inside the nostrils are actions to be avoided. In fact, in this way, the protective barrier of the mucous membranes is altered and bacteria are brought into the nasal cavity, including potentially Chlamydia pneumoniae, which thus have an easy time to easily overcome the damaged barrier and reach the brain. Of all the modifiable factors at our disposal to ward off the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, not picking our nose is probably the easiest to implement, right now.

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