As scientists scramble to find a cure for the progressiveness of Alzheimer’s disease in elders, new research has found that individuals residing in highly developed areas with an abundance of wealth and access to good hygiene may potentially increase the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Linking areas to reduced contact with various bacterias and viruses, studies suggest those within clean environments can affect the way immune system develops the bacterial exposure and essentials needed to fight the risk of dementia.
With Alzheimer’s affecting memory loss and difficulty with performing daily tasks, more than 5 million American’s are suffering from this brain disease, and many researchers believe this number will greatly increase to over 13.8 million by 2050. Now, with these latest findings, those living in privileged and sanitary situations may be potential contributors and pose added risks of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Molly Fox, a researcher who led the study at Cambridge’s Biological Anthropology section, examined the rates of individuals with Alzheimer’s in over 192 countries. Having modified the differences founded in the varying ages of suffers according to a country’s population, the studies were quick to find that areas with higher levels of sanitation also had higher rates of Alzheimer’s. Countries with access to clean water, such as France, had a nine percent higher rate of Alzheimer’s disease compared to underprivileged countries like Cambodia.
Likewise, Switzerland and Iceland, with its low infectious disease rates had a 12 percent Alzheimer’s rating compared to countries such as China and Ghana with higher infectious disease rates. Dr. Molly Fox says these findings are important implications regarding the rise in future global diseases, “Especially in developing countries as they increase in sanitation,” she noted.
Past research has also pointed to the possibility of good hygiene increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s. Studies found that every 5.8 years, dementia rates doubled in developed areas compared to just 6.7 years in low-income, developing nations. China, Latin America and India all show a lower Alzheimer’s rate compared to Europe with its more urbanized settings.
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the insufficiency of T-cells needed to prevent inflammation and infections that affect the brain of someone with this memory impairment disease. As more wealthy areas are diminishing the immune system’s exposure to nature, animals and soil and thus increasing modern medicines and sanitation, this greatly contributes to one’s exposure to, “microorganisms [which are] critical for the regulation of the immune system,” the researches insist, which have been present for the, “majority of human history.”
“Today, more than 50 percent of people with Alzheimer’s live in the developing world,” said Fox, “And by 2025, it is expected that this figure will rise to more than 70 percent.”
With the new report that good hygiene may increase Alzheimer’s risk having been published in the journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, researchers are positive that their findings are greatly contributing to this diagnoses. Fox also notes that these new findings can open up, “new avenues,” for prevention strategies to decrease the prevalence of the disease in these more highly developed nations.
Written by Annie Elizabeth Martin