Regular flu shots can protect against dementia. A retrospective study with 120,000 US veterans now provides information. Accordingly, vaccination reduced the risk of dementia by 12 percent.
A large US study shows that regular Flu Vaccine Significantly reduces the risk of dementia. In the study, the medical records of 120,000 veterans were retrospectively evaluated. Former military personnel averaged 75 years of age and were not permitted to be diagnosed with dementia at the start of the study.
The analysis shows: People who regularly vaccinated themselves against the flu, that is, at least six times within six and a half years, 12 percent fewer got one. Madness Less frequently than vaccinated or completely unvaccinated. Other things that affect the risk of dementia, such as age, ethnicity, gender, family status, and insurance status, were included. The frequency of doctor visits was also analyzed to reduce potential “early detection bias”.
12 percent fewer people with dementia have a declaration
How is a twelve percent reduction in the risk of dementia assessed? “This effect is not insignificant,” Professor Dr. Richard Dodel of the German Society for Neurology. With about 330,000 new cases of dementia each year in Germany, routine flu vaccination could protect about 40,000 people from developing dementia each year.
Nevertheless, the dementia specialist interprets the results with caution, as this was a retrospective analysis of patient data. “There is no evidence of this kind of association study,” he says. The observed positive effect of vaccination on the risk of dementia may ultimately be due to the fact that people who receive routine vaccination also tend to be healthier and thus have a lower risk of disease.
The result can also be explained pathophysiologically.
But there are other association studies that may show a reduction in the risk of dementia through flu vaccination and further vaccinations. Experimental animal studies have also indicated an association between vaccination and a lower risk of dementia. These studies may show that brain immune cells (microglia) increase after vaccination and thus break down more of the protein beta-amyloid. In Alzheimer’s patients, this protein clumps to form plaque, which is associated with the destruction of nerve cells.
Immune cells are activated in the brain after vaccination
The study authors justify their hypothesis with this pathophysiological mechanism: vaccination leads to an increase in the activity of microglia. They recognize and break down disease-causing substances and waste products.
So far this is only a hypothesis, but if now prospective studies have shown that repeated flu vaccinations have exactly the same effect and break down beta-amyloid, “it would be a breakthrough for dementia therapy,” Richard Dodell says Then there will be a considerable additional benefit from vaccination.
The Dye study “Risk of dementia after influenza vaccination in a large veterans cohort running head: Influenza vaccination and dementia” is in the journal “Vaccine” erschienen in August.
Photo: © Adobe Stock/ C Barhorst
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