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That cold sore might be causing you memory loss

The study showed that people who had higher levels of infection were more likely to score poorly on a test.

Image: Cold sore via Shutterstock

THE SAME VIRUS that causes the common cold sore may be linked to cognitive problems.

According to a new study in the medical journal, Neurology, people who have had higher levels of infection in their blood were more likely to have loss of memory than people with lower levels of infection in the blood.

For the study, researchers tested thinking and memory in 1,625 people with an average age of 69 from northern Manhattan in New York. Participants gave blood samples that were tested for five common low grade infections. The results showed that the people who had higher levels of infection had a 25 per cent increase in the risk of a low score on a common test of cognition.

“We found the link was greater among women, those with lower levels of education, no health insurance, and most prominently, in people who do not exercise,” said author Mira Katan, MD of Columbia University Medical Center, New York.

“While this association needs to be further studied, the results could lead to ways to identify people at risk of cognitive impairment and eventually lower that risk,” said Katan. “For example, exercise and childhood vaccinations against viruses could decrease the risk for memory problems later in life.”

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