Health

Here’s the deal with a study that allegedly linked nose-picking to dementia

Here’s the deal with a study that allegedly linked nose-picking to dementia

nose picking and dementia

Can picking your nose cause dementia?inarik – Getty Images

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Dementia is a terrifying disease that affects more than 20% of American adults aged 85 to 89. Doctors don’t understand much about dementia and why people develop it, but one study has a theory: Dementia may be linked to nose picking. Somehow.

The study, published in Scientific Reports February, he suddenly got a lot of attention when a Media Release from Griffith University said the study – led by Griffith researchers – suggests that picking your nose may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia.

But the study itself is a bit more complicated than that. If you’ve ever picked your nose – and who hasn’t? – it’s understandable to wonder what the research actually showed.

What exactly did the Alzheimer’s and nose picking study reveal?

It is important to point out that the study was conducted on mice, not humans. For the study, the researchers took Chlamydia pneumoniae, a respiratory tract pathogen that can infect the central nervous system, and rubbed it on the inside of the noses of some mice. (A Chlamydia pneumoniae infection of the central nervous system is associated with the development of dementia later in life.)

The researchers found that infecting the mice in this way led to “dysregulation” of “key pathways” involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers concluded that the nerves running from the nasal cavity to the brain “create invasion pathways” through which Chlamydia pneumoniae they can “rapidly invade” the central nervous system, which leads to the deposition of amyloid beta deposits, that is, amino acids found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s important to note that the study did not specifically link nose-picking to dementia, but one of the researchers suggested the link in a press release. Study co-author James St. John, Ph.D., head of the Clem Jones Center for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research at Griffith University, said in a press release that people should avoid picking their nose because of the risk of exposed to bacteria. “Plucking noses and pulling nose hairs is not a good idea,” he said. “We don’t want to damage the inside of the nose, and picking and plucking can do that.”

St. John added: “If you damage the lining of your nose, you can increase the number of bacteria that can get into your brain.”

However, St. John said there is still a lot of work to be done before this relationship is truly established. “It’s a research that has been proposed by many people, but it’s not finished yet,” he said. “What we do know is that these same bacteria are present in humans, but we haven’t worked out how they get there.”

What really causes dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for the impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions that interfere daily activitiesaccording to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but there are other forms, including vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia.

The exact causes of dementia are not well understood, but the CDC lists several factors that increase the risk of developing the condition. This includes:

  • Aging (most cases affect people over 65)

  • Have a family history of dementia

  • Being African American or Hispanic

  • To have the poor heart health— specifically, high blood pressure and high cholesterol

  • He had a traumatic brain injury

“The brain ages at different rates for different people,” says Amit Sachdev, MD, director of neuromuscular medicine at Michigan State University. “The main predictors are genetics, exposure to toxins like alcoholand general health.”

So can picking your nose cause dementia?

Eh. That’s a tough sell at the moment, says Sachdev. “I believe this bacteria can infect the nose. This is a very clear finding,” he says. “That infection can damage the nerves present in the nose. However, this damage to local nerves in the nose leading to brain injury is a leap too far.”

Sachdev says there’s really no good evidence of a link between nose picking and dementia. Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Buffalo in New York, agrees. “Chlamydia pneumoniae as a cause of dementia is quite uncertain,” he says.

However, while picking your nose is not exactly socially acceptable, it can also be a potential risk factor for infectious diseases, Russo adds. “It’s not a particularly hygienic habit,” he says. “If you have contaminated your hands and fingers through the respiratory route virus, this is a way to inoculate yourself directly. People should do their best to avoid this to reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections.”

All in all, while it’s not great to pick your nose, it’s hard to say that it will actually give you dementia. “If you’re worried about dementia, then at this point it’s more important to maintain an overall healthy body than to avoid picking your nose,” says Sachdev.

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