No link between shingles and dementia risk


By Quang Tran | Wednesday 08 June 2022

Researchers investigating the effect of viruses on the brain found that shingles were not linked with an increased risk of dementia. The scientific journal Neurology published the findings today (Wednesday 8 June).

What did researchers look at?

Researchers looked at a 247,305 people with shingles in Holland and looked to see who went on to develop dementia over 20 years. They compared this with people from the population who didn’t have shingles.

What did researchers find?

They found shingles was not associated with increased risk of dementia.

What our expert said

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“There is growing interest in a possible link between viruses and the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s. There’s been very little research into the links between shingles and dementia, although some scientists have suggested there may be a link through inflammation.

“Stats from the NHS suggest about one in four people will develop shingles during their lifetime, and Alzheimer’s Research UK estimates that one in three people born today will develop dementia, unless effective treatments can be found.

“The findings in this research study show that there’s no association between developing shingles and an increased risk of dementia. While this is only one study, it looked at hundreds of thousands of people and suggests people who develop shingles should not be overly worried that it will lead dementia down the line.

“Preventing cases of dementia is a key priority for the dementia research community and is a priority for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The human brain is incredibly powerful and keeping connected, staying sharp and being physically active are three simple ways we can help keep it healthy as we age.”


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Quang Tran