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Mouth Bacteria Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, Study Suggests

Update Date: Jul 31, 2013 03:08 PM EDT

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dementia, which includes Alzheimer's disease, is expected to triple by 2050 with 115 million cases. Due to the fact that there is no cure for dementia, preventing the onset of the disease is extremely important. Numerous studies have looked into factors that might contribute to Alzheimer's with the hopes that these findings can add more information and lead to better treatment options and preventable measures for the illness. In a new study, researchers found an association between mouth bacteria and the onset of Alzheimer's.

For this study, the researchers looked at 20 brain tissue samples, half of which was healthy while the other half came from patients with Alzheimer's. The researchers focused on the bacteria, porphyromonas gingivalis. In theory, this bacterium is believed to be linked to Alzheimer's disease.  According to the theory, once this bacteria enters the body's bloodstream through chewing food or tooth removal, it can end up in the brain where it starts to produce chemicals over time that can lead to Alzheimer's.

From the tissue samples, the researchers did not find any of this bacterium present in the healthy samples. In the tissue samples afflicted with Alzheimer's, the researchers found the bacteria in four of them. This finding suggests that the theory might have some truth to it. Although the researchers cannot know for sure if the mouth bacteria directly leads to Alzheimer's, they recommend that people maintain a good and healthy dental hygiene.

"The results are very encouraging," said StJohn Crean, the dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Central Lancashire in England. "We've shown an association, not causation. It does nothing more than to prove that these bacteria do get to the brain. The issue is to reduce the bacterial load that occupies our gum tissues, to reduce the bacterial assault if and when it happens."

The researchers hope that they can explore the relationship between mouth bacteria and Alzheimer's more in depth in another study. This study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

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