Many people have the habit of picking their nose out of boredom or nervousness. The fact that it is considered gross, especially if you do it around people, is one of the key reasons why people learn to quit doing it.
However, scientists have discovered a crucial justification to abandon this endeavor. A recent study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that this habit could put you at risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
How does nose-picking cause Alzheimer’s disease?
There is a direct connection between the olfactory nerve and the brain. Therefore, bacteria that enter the olfactory nerve can bypass the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain directly from the nasal cavity.
The study, conducted on mice, showed that Chlamydia pneumoniae, a bacterium that causes respiratory tract infections like pneumonia, used this pathway to enter the central nervous system.
When C. pneumoniae invaded the brain, cells produced amyloid beta protein as a response. Alzheimer's disease is characterized by plaques made of amyloid beta protein, which accumulates over time.
This study is consistent with previous findings.
In 2008, a study suggested that C. pneumoniae infection may cause late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
A similar study in 2010 linked C. pneumoniae infection to Alzheimer’s pathogenesis, revealing a correlation between C. pneumoniae with amyloid deposits, and neurofibrillary tangles together in the brain.
Risk in Humans
It remains to be proved that nefarious viruses and bacteria can use the same pathway through the olfactory nerve in the nose to the brain in humans.
Why should you not pick your nose?
By picking the nose you are introducing your nose to various viruses, germs, and other contaminants.
Transmitting viruses and germs from the nose to nearby surfaces,
Causing harm to the internal tissues of the nose.
According to research so far, this harm and the introduction of viruses may raise the risk of Alzheimer's.
Professor St John advised against nose-picking and plucking hairs from the nose. If you damage the nasal lining, more bacteria enter into your brain," he said.
For people 60 years and older, he also recommends smell tests to lower the risks of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease. These tests can help to detect Alzheimer's and dementia early on.