Science & Tech

Why picking your nose could increase risk of Alzheimer's

Why picking your nose could increase risk of Alzheimer's
How picking your nose could increase risk of Alzheimer's and dementia

A new scientific study on the bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae has argued that picking our noses could have serious long-term impacts on our health.

The bacterium can infect the central nervous system, and the impact it had on mice tested as part of a study opened up new areas of understanding upon exactly how it is ingested.

Professor James St John of Australia’s Griffith University infected mice with C. pneumoniae, finding that the nose was one of the clearest ways of leading to an infection in the brain.

Once in the nervous system, mice developed plaques made of the protein amyloid beta which is the same as those seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

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“We’re the first to show that Chlamydia pneumoniae can go directly up the nose and into the brain where it can set off pathologies that look like Alzheimer’s disease,” a statement from St John read. “We saw this happen in a mouse model, and the evidence is potentially scary for humans as well.”

Humans need the inner lining of the nose to keep bacteria making its way up the olfactory nerve towards the brain, so we have to protect it.

“Picking your nose and plucking the hairs from your nose are not a good idea. We don’t want to damage the inside of our nose and picking and plucking can do that,” St John said.

Chlamydia pneumoniae isn’t just linked with Alzheimer's, either. It accounts for 5-20 per cent of pneumonia, and has also been linked to asthma and increased risk of lung cancer.

It’s the most significant finding since a recent study revealed that over-65s who have had Covid are 80 per cent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s within a year of being infected.

Those that fall within this age bracket were found to be 50 to 80 per cent more at risk of developing the form of dementia than those who have not had the virus.

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