Is Herpes Simplex Linked To Alzheimer's? Surprising New Evidence

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Nov. 17, 2014 - PRLog -- The Herpes virus and Alzheimer's are two totally different diseases, with no relation to each other. At least, that would have previously been the assumption. But now, two new studies may show otherwise – that Herpes Simplex may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Herpes is usually thought to be a sexually transmitted disease, but there are actually two types of Herpes – type 1 (HSV 1) and type 2. Type 1  occurs in most people during childhood, and symptoms are not necessarily present. Shockingly, the American Academy of Dermatologists estimates that this type of virus is present in 90% of the population.

If the link between Herpes and Alzheimer's is a fact, this would explain why so many people contract Alzheimer's, and it could be a major scientific breakthrough.

The studies in question were performed by researchers at Umea University in Sweden. The theory linking the herpes virus and Alzheimer's disease states that the virus weakens the immune system, allowing the virus to spread to the brain, thus setting off the process toward dementia.

The risk of Alzheimer's may even be doubled, according to the researchers. In one study, a group of almost 3,500 people were tracked for an average of 11 years. It was found that having certain antibodies to a herpes infection actually doubled the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease.

In a follow-up study, researchers took blood samples from 360 Alzheimer's patients for an average of almost 10 years before they were diagnosed with the disease. These samples were compared to samples taken from people without Alzheimer's. When the samples were compared, no association between Alzheimer's and Herpes was found.  However, it was discovered that patients whose diagnosis came 6.6 years or more after blood was taken were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

The lead researcher, Dr. Lovheim, associate professor in the department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation at Umea stated: "Our results clearly show that there is a link between infections of herpes simplex virus and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease... This also means that we have new opportunities to develop treatment forms to stop the disease."

Dr. Lovheim is hoping that further clinical studies can be undertaken, in order to investigate whether treating Herpes with antiviral drugs will slow down the progression of Alzheimer's.

So far, the scientific community as a whole is not convinced of the validity of Dr. Lovheim's theory. But it certainly warrants a closer look.

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