06 Sep 2013, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: A new research conducted at biological anthropology division, Cambridge University, has found that people living in industrialized countries may be more likely to develop Alzheimer's due to greatly reduced contact with bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.
The study also found that high-income and highly industrialized countries with large urban areas and better hygiene exhibit much higher rates of Alzheimer's.
The study, which used age-standardised data, found strong correlations between national sanitation levels and Alzheimer's. This latest study adds further weight to the "hygiene hypothesis" in relation to Alzheimer's that sanitised environments in developed nations result in far less exposure to a diverse range of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms, which might actually cause the immune system to develop poorly, exposing the brain to the inflammation associated with Alzheimer's disease, say the researchers.
Dr Molly Fox, lead author of the study and Gates Cambridge Alumna, who conducted the research at Cambridge's Biological Anthropology division, "The 'hygiene hypothesis', which suggests a relationship between cleaner environments and a higher risk of certain allergies and autoimmune diseases, is well- established."
She added, "We believe we can now add Alzheimer's to this list of diseases. There are important implications for forecasting future global disease burden, especially in developing countries as they increase in sanitation."