Nobody will ever admit to picking their nose, but there’s a fair bet everyone does it. Except me, of course.
If you do, there might be a very good reason to stop: it could be the mechanism that causes Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, the actual causes of Alzheimer’s disease aren’t clear. People know about the amyloid-beta plaques that form in the brain and tangles of tau proteins, but how they get there, or whether they are causative or a consequence aren’t known.
A team of researchers from Griffith University undertook a study in mice that revealed a tenuous but plausible link between picking your nose and upping the chances of developing dementia.
Chlamydia pneumoniae can infect humans and cause pneumonia and have also been discovered in the majority of human brains affected by late-onset dementia. They showed that in mice, the bacteria could travel up the olfactory nerve (joining the nasal cavity and the brain). What’s more, when there was damage to the nasal epithelium (the thin tissue along the roof of the nasal cavity), nerve infections got worse.
So until there are human trials (eww!) or a reliable link has been discovered, it might be worth reaching for a tissue, not up your nose.