The Versatile BCG Vaccine
The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, known for its use in preventing tuberculosis, has shown additional beneficial effects.
In fact, it’s now a recommended treatment for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
Excitingly, recent research suggests the BCG vaccine could also potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
Investigating BCG’s Effects on Alzheimer’s Risk
In a study led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), the BCG vaccine was linked to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other similar conditions.
The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.
Earlier studies hinted at this potential protective effect, but were limited due to their small size, study design, or analytical methods.
Dr. Marc Weinberg of MGH, together with a team of researchers, carried out a more extensive study to explore this link further.
Study Design: Following Thousands of Patients
The researchers tracked 6,467 individuals for up to 15 years after their diagnosis with non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
The study group included 3,388 patients who received the BCG vaccine treatment and 3,079 who acted as control participants. The participants were matched based on factors like age, sex, and medical co-morbidities.
Over the follow-up period, 202 patients in the BCG group and 262 in the control group developed Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias.
Statistical analysis showed that the BCG vaccine treatment was associated with a 20% lower risk of these conditions, especially among patients aged 70 years or older.
Potential for Increased Longevity
Remarkably, the study also showed that the BCG vaccine was linked with a 25% lower risk of death.
This finding emerged after the researchers found that 751 patients in the BCG group and 973 in the control group died during the follow-up period.
The Road Ahead: Exploring BCG’s Potential for Alzheimer’s
Dr. Weinberg sees the potential of the BCG vaccine as a cost-effective, population-health solution to a devastating illness like Alzheimer’s.
His team now aims to investigate the benefits of BCG vaccination in older adults through Alzheimer’s disease-related clinical trials.
If further research confirms a causal link between the BCG vaccine and a lower Alzheimer’s risk, understanding the mechanisms involved will be essential.
The vaccine’s effects on the immune system could be key, the researchers suggest.
If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies about the blood test that can predict dementia, Alzheimer’s 5 years early, and one year of this exercise training may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information about Alzheimer’s, please see recent studies that Coconut oil may help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s, and results showing strawberries could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was published in JAMA Network Open.
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