A new study shows that picking your nose could increase your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Recent findings suggest that beta-amyloid, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease, might be generated in the brain as a defense against pathogens entering through the nasal cavity, such as from inserting dirty fingers in the nose.
According to the study, “neuroinflammation in [Alzheimer’s disease] might be partially caused by pathogens entering the brain through the olfactory system.”
The report, published in the peer-reviewed journal Biomolecules, said, “There is even some evidence to suggest that [beta-amyloid] may have antibacterial properties as a defense mechanism against microbial infections in the brain.”
Additionally, the report stated that Alzheimer’s disease is linked to viral, fungal, and bacterial infections.
“These pathogens are known to establish persistent, latent, or chronic infections in peripheral tissues, including the nasal epithelium, where they may persist for extended periods without causing overt symptoms, until they enter the brain with pathological consequences.”
“The olfactory system represents a plausible route for pathogen entry, given its direct anatomical connection to the brain and its involvement in the early stages of AD,” the report explained.
The Mayo Clinic estimates that 6.5 million Americans aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, with over 70% of patients aged 75 and older.
According to The National Institute on Aging, its cause can be a “combination of age-related changes in the brain, along with genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.”
If nose-picking is indeed one of those lifestyle factors, the report’s authors advised people to stop, despite its potential benefits in clearing dried mucus for easier breathing.
“It is essential to note that the temporary relief obtained from nose picking is not a substitute for proper nasal hygiene, which involves regular cleaning and maintenance of the nasal passages through gentle methods such as saline nasal rinses or blowing the nose,” the report said.
“One of the lessons learned from COVID-19 is the value of hand hygiene through frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers, and we suggest these routine hygienic procedures be mandatory routine procedures for the incurable nose-picker.”