Neuron Magazine Says There is a Link Between Alzheimer's and Exposure to the Flu and Other Viruses

Mark Hake
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In January 2023, Neuron, a major health research magazine, published an article showing evidence of a direct link between viruses and neurodegenerative diseases. The article identified 45 viral exposures significantly associated with an increased risk of neurodegenerative disease and the scientists replicated 22 of these associations.

The largest effect association was between viral encephalitis exposure and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, influenza with pneumonia was significantly associated with five of the six neurodegenerative diseases studied.

The bottom line, according to the Alzheimer's Prevention Bureau, is that taking a flu shot can lead to a lower risk of having dementia. The greatest risk for Alzheimer’s disease was associated with viral meningitis, followed by flu-related pneumonia and herpes simplex virus 1.

The authors of the paper analyzed medical records from 344,000 people from the Finnish nationwide biobank, FinnGen, and 106,000 from the U.K. Biobank. All the participants in the study were 60 years old and up. The authors looked for a neurodegenerative disease before and after hospitalization for a serious viral infection. 

What The Study Found About Alzheimer's

Here is a synopsis of the results.

  • People with viral encephalitis were 31 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
  • They were also 40 times more likely to have dementia of any type vs. those not hospitalized.
  • Meningitis caused a 62-fold increase in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
  • Flu and flu-induced pneumonia were linked to the most types of neurodegenerative diseases.

The risk of dementia was highest during the first year after infection. Even though risks fell over the next 15 years, there was still some base level of risk of getting dementia.

The Alzheimer's Prevention Bureau wrote that this is why older people should consider getting a flu shot. It might have implications for picking up dementia later on in life.


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Mark R. Hake, CFA, writes articles on national and local news, stocks, and market events at,,, and as well as TalkMarkets.

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Mark Hake is a financial analyst, investor, and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He writes about US and foreign stocks as well as cryptos, hedge funds, and private equity. He previously ran his own hedge fund, investment research firm, and acted as CFO for a fintech startup. He focuses on finding value, arbitrage, and hidden asset opportunities.

Phoenix, AZ

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