Influenza vaccination reduces the risk of dementia  healthy city of berlin

Regular flu vaccinations may protect against dementia. A retrospective study with 120,000 US veterans now provides information. Accordingly, vaccination reduced the risk of developing dementia by 12 percent.

A large study from the United States showed that this is regular flu shots Significantly reduces the risk of dementia. In the study, the medical records of 120,000 veterans were evaluated retrospectively. The median age of former military personnel was 75 years and they were not allowed a diagnosis of dementia at the start of the study.

Analysis shows: Among those who vaccinated themselves regularly against the flu at least six times in six and a half years, 12 percent fewer got one. mental illness Those who are vaccinated less or who are not vaccinated at all. Other factors influencing the risk of developing dementia were taken into account, such as age, race, gender, family status and insurance status. The frequency of doctor visits was also analyzed in order to reduce the possibility of ‘early detection bias’.

12 percent fewer people with dementia ad

How is the twelve percent risk reduction for dementia assessed? Says Professor Dr. Richard Doodel of the German Society of Neurology. With around 330,000 new cases of dementia in Germany each year, regular flu vaccinations can save nearly 40,000 people from being diagnosed with dementia each year.

However, the dementia expert interprets the results with caution, because it was a retrospective analysis of patient data. “These association studies have no evidence,” he says. The observed positive effect of vaccinations on the risk of developing dementia could also be due to the fact that people who receive regular vaccinations also live healthier and therefore have a lower risk of developing the disease.

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The result can also be interpreted in pathophysiological terms

But there are other association studies that can also show a reduced risk of dementia with flu shots and more vaccinations. Experimental animal studies have also suggested a link between vaccinations and a lower risk of dementia. In these studies, it can be shown that the brain’s immune cells (microglia) increase after vaccination, and thus more amyloid beta protein is broken down. In Alzheimer’s patients, this protein clumps to form plaques associated with the destruction of neurons.

Immune cells are activated in the brain after vaccination

The study authors justify their hypothesis with this pathogenesis: Vaccines lead to an increase in the activity of microglia. They identify pathogenic substances and waste and decompose them.

So far, that’s only a hypothesis, but if future studies now show that frequent flu vaccines have exactly this effect and break down beta-amyloid, “it would be a breakthrough for treating dementia,” says Richard Dowdell. Then vaccinations will have a huge additional benefit.

Die Studie “Risk of dementia after influenza vaccination in a large cohort of veterans: influenza vaccination and dementia” August in the journal “Vaccine” erschienen.

Photo: © Adobe Stock / C Barhorst

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