Your mother told you never to pick your nose – and that advice was probably wiser than even she knew.
According to a new study, people who pick their noses could introduce bacteria that travel up the olfactory nerve and enter the brain, potentially increasing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, monitored mice and found that Chlamydia pneumoniae traveled the nerve between the nasal cavity and the brain, then attacked the central nervous system. In response, brain cells deposited the beta-amyloid protein, considered a marker for Alzheimer’s disease. Brain scans of these mice showed patterns similar to what one would expect to find with dementia.
The olfactory nerve is a powerful pathway for these bacteria because it has a short route to the brain and bypasses the blood-brain barrier.
In a summary of the researchers’ findings, James St John, director of the Clem Jones Center for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research and study co-author, said:
“We are the first to show that Chlamydia pneumoniae can go directly into the nose and into the brain where it can trigger pathologies that resemble Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve seen this happen in a mouse model, and the evidence is potentially chilling for humans as well. »
It should be noted that results in mice do not necessarily confirm that the same risk exists in humans. The researchers say the next phase of their study will focus on whether the same risk is present in people.
In the meantime, researchers are sure of one thing: it’s a very bad idea to pick your nose or pluck your nose hair. According to Saint John:
“We don’t want to damage the inside of our noses and picking and picking can do that. If you damage the lining of your nose, you can increase the number of bacteria that can get into your brain.
St John says the risk of developing dementia “increases” after the age of 65 and that bacteria and viruses could play a “critical” role in the course of the disease.
Multiple studies over the past two years have found evidence that infection with COVID-19 can increase the likelihood of developing dementia, and it can also speed up the timeline for diagnosis of the disease.
St John adds that one of the first signs of possible Alzheimer’s disease is a loss of sense of smell, and he recommends that people have their sense of smell tested from the age of 60.
For more information on dementia, see: