If you have any of five disorders of the gut, you may be at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study.
Researchers at Edith Cowan University’s Centre for Precision Health in Perth, Australia, found that the genes of people who have both Alzheimer’s and one of those five gastrointestinal disorders share certain characteristics in common.
In the study, the researchers analyzed genetic data from studies of both Alzheimer’s disease and gut disorders. Overall, the data covered hundreds of thousands of people.
The researchers found links between Alzheimer’s and these five gastrointestinal disorders:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Peptic ulcer disease (PUD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
However, there appears to be no correlation between inflammatory bowel disease and Alzheimer’s.
In a press release, Simon Laws, the Centre for Precision Health director and study supervisor, noted that the study did not establish that gut disorders cause Alzheimer’s disease or vice versa. Still, he praised the findings:
“These findings provide further evidence to support the concept of the ‘gut-brain’ axis, a two-way link between the brain’s cognitive and emotional centres, and the functioning of the intestines.”
The study also found evidence that an abnormal level of cholesterol is a risk factor for both Alzheimer’s disease and gut disorders.
The researchers say further study is needed, but it appears that high cholesterol transfers into the central nervous system. The result is abnormal cholesterol metabolism in the brain.
Emmanuel Adewuyi, research lead for the study, notes that higher levels of cholesterol in the brain have been linked to brain degeneration and cognitive impairment.
The researchers say the study findings suggest that using cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins could help treat both Alzheimer’s and gut disorders.
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