Herpes virus may play role in Alzheimer's, study says

A new study links a virus to Alzheimer's Disease. And roughly 90 percent of adults have already been exposed to this virus by the time they reach 50 years of age.

What virus are we talking about?

This study really caught my attention because the Human Herpes Virus is quite common. Now scientists stumbled upon this discovery after looking at data on over 900 brains of people who did and did not have Alzheimer's. And they found that the virus levels were twice as high in the brains of people with Alzheimer's compared to the brains that did not have this devastating disease that steals memories from millions of Americas. 

Now two particular strains of the human herpes virus were identified, HHV-6A and HHV- 7. They belong to a family of roseoloviruses which are closely linked to roseola. Many parents will recognize this as a pinkish rash children often get when they are young.  In fact, infants as young as one month of age can get HHV-6 and this strain is responsible for up to 20% of infants at the ER due to high fever. 

Since the herpes virus is quite common, should we all be alarmed or concerned?

At this point, no one should be alarmed. Yes, the Herpes strains 6 and 7 can enter brain cells and lay dormant for years. They may also become activated later on because of stress or illness. And they could potentially interact with genes already known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But right now the Human Herpes Virus is a link that was found, not a primary cause. 

So just because you or a loved one have the herpes virus does not mean you’ll end up with Alzheimer’s. 

Right now there’s no proven way to prevent this common form of dementia, but strong evidence supports that a healthy lifestyle could reduce your risk.  So be sure to exercise, get enough sleep, keep your brain active and eat healthy which means lots of fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, and fish.

Print this article Back to Top