Today’s Headlines: How Infections May Impact Alzheimer’s Development, How Massage Therapy Can Manage Pain, and Why Friendships Keep You Healthy

New research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease may develop from infections in the brain. Some researchers believe that infections may cause buildup in the brain that can increase the chances of getting Alzheimer’s. “For a long time, researchers believed that a protein called amyloid beta had a role in causing Alzheimer’s by building up plaque in the brain that destroyed its ability to make connections, ultimately leading to memory loss. Now, the new research…suggests that amyloid buildup may actually happen as a protective measure when the brain is trying to fight off infections, and that Alzheimer’s disease may be caused when an infection causes too much amyloid buildup. As people age, it may be easier for infections to reach the brain, triggering the amyloid and spurring the cascade of problems that lead to the disease.” While more research is needed, these new findings could change the way scientists and doctors approach, understand, and treat this disease. (Time)

Getting a massage may ease some of your body pains. While massage therapy may not be the most effective way to manage pain, researchers found that it was better than no treatment at all. “Massage manipulates soft tissue to alleviate pain, and some people believe the relaxation tied to the therapy may help other aspects of the person’s health like psychology…For the new study, the researchers searched databases of medical studies to find those…[that] tested massage for muscle and bone pain, headaches, deep internal pain, chronic pain like fibromyalgia and spinal cord pain. Three of four studies involving a total of 245 people with muscle and bone pain showed that compared to no therapy, massage had a very large effect on pain, the researchers found. The group was able to make a strong recommendation for massage therapy, compared to no treatment.” Researchers recommended massage as a supplement to other pain management treatments for the best results. (Reuters)

Your friends could be helping your health. Having a support system present in your life can do wonders for your health both physically and mentally. “Ever since researchers began to make links between loneliness and poor health about 25 years ago, the scientific literature on the value of friendship has exploded. Today, the data make a convincing case: Having people who care about us is good for us. In a 2010 meta-analysis…researchers found a strong connection between social relationships and life span. The size of the effect rivaled that of better-known health-related behaviors such as smoking and exercise…in a 2015 analysis…[researchers] found that the absence of social connections carried the same health risk as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.” Many related studies, compiled over several decades, have shown that good relationships can benefit us in a variety of ways. (The Washington Post)