At any given time, one of us has had athlete’s foot, an eye infection, or a skin irritation that was caused by fungi. From ringworm to candida, fungal infections cause some irritatingly common, but relatively benign illnesses that can be treated with anti-fungals or by starvation. But what if fungal infections aren't so harmless after all?

New research suggests that fungus could be perhaps the culprit of a much more sinister disease: Alzheimer’s. Scientists at the University of Madrid found evidence of fungi in every single brain tissue sample taken from cadavers and none in non-Alzheimer’s-afflicted persons. Does this mean fungus could be the root cause of dementia?

[R]esearch has pointed to strong evidence that fungus may cause Parkinson’s and can escalate cancer deaths. In other species, certain fungal infections are threatening wildlife such as snakes and bats.

It’s hard to tell because perhaps weak neurological tissue is a more hospitable environment for fungus. That said, other research has pointed to strong evidence that fungus may cause Parkinson’s and can escalate cancer deaths. In other species, certain fungal infections are threatening wildlife such as snakes and bats.

Whatever the cause or the reason for the presence of fungus in Alzheimer’s patients, it highlights the notion that we know less than we think about fungi. Apparently, it even loves whiskey.

Mental decline, on some level, is inseparable from aging. With more people living longer, does this mean everyone will eventually get Alzheimer’s?


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Daphne Muller is a New York City-based writer who has written for Salon, Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, and reviewed books for ELLE and Publishers Weekly. Most recently, she completed a novel and screenplay. You can follow her on Instagram @daphonay and on Twitter @DaphneEMuller.

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