Flu shot may reduce Alzheimer's risk, study finds

Flu and pneumonia vaccinations may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life, according to new research presented July 27 at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

The first study found one flu shot was linked to a 17 percent decrease in Alzheimer's incidence. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston analyzed medical records for about 9,000 adults ages 60 or older with similar known risk factors for Alzheimer's, such as obesity or heart diseases, reports NPR. Even after controlling for such factors as education, income and overall health status, those who received regular flu shots had a 13 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's. 

"There is a protective effect," study author Albert Amran, a medical student at UT Health, told NPR. "How much is something that needs to be quantified with a more intensive study."

The second study assessed how both flu and pneumonia vaccines relate to Alzheimer's risk. Researchers at Durham, N.C.-based Duke University and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill examined medical records for 5,146 patients 65 and older.

People who received the pneumonia vaccine before age 75 were 25 percent to 30 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's after adjusting for various factors, including genetic risk. Patients who also got a seasonal flu shot did not display an additional decline in Alzheimer's risk.

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