New research suggests that a common stomach bacterium found in two-thirds of the world’s population may be linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study published in Alzheimer and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association examined whether clinically identifiable infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in people aged 50 and older. The prevalent infection can cause digestive disorders, gastritis, ulcers, and even stomach cancer.
A team of researchers from McGill University analyzed health data from over 4 million people aged 50 and older in the UK between 1988 and 2019. It was found that people with symptomatic H. pylori infection had an 11% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. While the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is multifaceted, the results are based on a growing body of evidence for the potential role of infections, especially H. Pylori, in its development. The study opens avenues for future research, particularly investigating whether eradication of this bacterium in some individuals could effectively prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Millions of people worldwide are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, with the number expected to increase significantly due to demographic changes, researchers say. „Given the globally aging population, it is expected that the number of dementia cases will triple in the next 40 years. However, effective treatment options for this disease remain lacking,“ said Dr. Paul Brassard, lead author of the study and a professor at McGill’s Department of Medicine.
„We hope that the results of this investigation will provide insights into the potential role of H. pylori in dementia, to serve as a basis for the development of prevention strategies, such as individualized eradication programs, to reduce infections at the population level.“
Dr. Brassard, Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician, McGill University Health Center
Douros, A., et al. (2023). Clinically apparent Helicobacter pylori infection and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease: A population-based nested case-control study. Alzheimer and Dementia. doi.org/10.1002/alz.13561.