New Study May Link Alzheimer’s Disease & Better Hygiene
Posted on Sep 30, 2013
A study recently published by Cambridge University’s Biological Anthropology division suggests a strong connection between increased rates of dementia-related disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and the cleaner living conditions available to individuals living in the world’s wealthiest nations.
Researchers analyzed information gathered by the World Health Organization and found that rates of this type of disorder were significantly higher in wealthier countries, such as France, the United Kingdom, Iceland and Switzerland—all nations that can afford to provide excellent water quality and sanitation standards.
While cleaner living protects people from many deadly viruses, bacteria and other germs, a possible side effect may be that a lack of exposure to these microbes may inhibit proper development of the immune system.
As a result, affected individuals may be more susceptible to autoimmune disorders and allergies. The idea, known as the “hygiene hypothesis,” isn’t new—neither is the controversy surrounding it—but this is the first time it has been directly connected to Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ ….is well established,” said Molly Fox, lead study author and Cambridge Alumna. “We believe we can now add Alzheimer’s to this list of diseases.”
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