Carrying herpes virus doubles risk of developing dementia

UPPSALA, Sweden — The wrong kiss today could spell serious trouble for your mind tomorrow. The herpes virus already carries a serious social stigma due to the unsightly sores it produces either orally or genitally, but groundbreaking new research finds that anyone infected with either HSV-1 (primarily oral) or HSV-2 (primarily genital) is twice as likely to eventually develop dementia later in life.

While prior research has highlighted a possible connection between herpes and cognitive decline, these latest findings suggest HSV is a very real dementia risk factor.

Study authors from Uppsala University analyzed 1,000 local older adults (averaging 70 years-old) over a period of 15 years. This approach led to the revelation that those carrying the herpes virus showed double the odds of developing dementia in comparison to others who avoided the virus their entire lives.

💡What Is Herpes Simplex Virus?

  • HSV spreads through skin-to-skin contact and even during asymptomatic periods.
  • Once infected, the virus stays in your body forever, though symptoms may not always be present.
  • Outbreaks can appear as painful blisters or ulcers, often recurring over time.
  • While there’s no cure for HSV, medication can manage outbreaks and reduce their frequency.

Studies continue to show just how common the herpes virus is across the general population. Estimates find that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of all Americans have a form of herpes, and the study authors found similar figures in Sweden as well. Crucially, however, not everyone infected with herpes goes on to develop cold sores or genital sores.

While the infection is unfortunately lifelong, symptoms come and go depending on the individual. One infected individual may never develop a cold sore, another may develop just one after their initial infection, while many others deal with sores on a much more frequent basis.

“What’s special about this particular study is that the participants are roughly the same age, which makes the results even more reliable since age differences, which are otherwise linked to the development of dementia, cannot confuse the results,” says Erika Vestin, a medical student at Uppsala University, in a media release.

Estimates show that about 55 million people all over the world live with a form of dementia — including Alzheimer’s disease. Known risk factors for dementia include old age and carrying the apolipoprotein ε4 gene. Prior studies have attempted to investigate if herpes held any connection to dementia, and now this latest work has seemingly confirmed as much.

“It is exciting that the results confirm previous studies. More and more evidence is emerging from studies that, like our findings, point to the herpes simplex virus as a risk factor for dementia,” Vestin explains.

In conclusion, study authors stress the need for further investigations aimed at determining if already known drugs for treating herpes may also reduce the risk of dementia and aid in the development of new vaccines.

“The results may drive dementia research further towards treating the illness at an early stage using common anti-herpes virus drugs, or preventing the disease before it occurs,” Vestin concludes.

The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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  1. This article implicates HSV-1 and HSV-2 but previous research and now this most recent research specifically implicates HSV-1 but says nothing directly about HSV-2 in isolation. HSV-2 is not an independent variable in the research.

  2. Eliminate Hsv..

    Good Herbal Medication…

    Thanks R.buck le r 1 1 ( ‘ ‘ ) g ma i l… c o m….

    United States

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