Around 40 per cent of Britons carry this common stomach bug that is found in contaminated water, food and soil
Researchers at McGill University in Montreal have estimated that about 200,000 cases of Alzheimer’s could be prevented each year by eradicating Helicobacter pylori bacterium, a common stomach bug carried by two in three people worldwide.
In a study, they have found symptomatic Helicobacter pylori infection associated with “moderate but significant” risk of contracting Alzheimer’s, The Times reported.
The risk of contracting Alzheimer’s was 11 per cent higher in adults infected with the bacterium, and it went up to 24 per cent between seven to ten years after the original infection took place.
However, the correlation weakened again after a decade, the researchers concluded after analysing the health data of over four million adults over the age of 50 in the UK.
Found in contaminated water, food and soil, Helicobacter pylori can easily spread from person to person through bodily fluids.
Around 40 per cent of Britons are estimated to carry the bug, which latches on to the sticky mucus of a carrier’s stomach.
While it is unlikely to cause any issues for most people, around 15 per cent of those affected may suffer from symptoms including stomach pains, nausea, weight loss and, potentially, and ulcers.
How exactly the bug increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is not known, but the McGill University research team suggested that it might be able to travel to the brain, where it inflames cells and cause neurodegeneration.
Dr Paul Brassard, the study’s senior author, has expressed hope that their findings could help protect people from Alzheimer’s, which affects around 900,000 people in Britain, in the future.
Dementia cases are expected to triple in the next 40 years, but there’s limited effective treatment options for this disease, Brassard added.