Could This Sexually Transmitted Yeast Infection Be Affecting People's Mental Health?
The Debrief: The Candida albicans fungus is a yeast infection - and scientists and are investigating the potential (scary) side effects
The Candida albicans fungus is a yeast infection that can be sexual transmitted and new research has found that a history of Candida yeast infections was more common in men with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder than in those without these disorders, and that women with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who tested positive for the infection performed worse on a standard memory test than women with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who had no evidence of past infection, Science Daily reports.
The fungus is usually found in the digestive tract but overgrowth can lead to burning, itching, thrust in infants and a genital yeast infection in adults which can be transmitted sexually. Usually, the body naturally regulates the production and things like reducing sugar consumption, avoiding unnecessary antibiotics and maintaining good hygiene can help avoid infection.
The study was conducted because new evidence had suggested that schizophrenia could be related to problems with the immune system, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to get a fungal infection.
They found that 26% of men with schizophrenia had Candida antibodies, compared to 14% of the control males and very similar results found in men with bipolar disorder. Researchers found that the link between bipolar and Candida could likely be attributed to homelessness but the link between men with schizophrenia and Candida infection 'persisted and could not be explained by homelessness or other environmental factors', according to Science Daily.
They found no difference in infection rate between woman with schizophrenia and the controls but they noticed that women with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder who had a history of the infection scored lower on memory tests.
Despite this, Professor Emily Severance, from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine said that it was ‘far too early to single out Candida infection as a cause of mental illness or vice versa’ and 'cannot demonstrate a direct link between Candida infection and physiological brain processes'.
What is true though, she said, is that 'some factor associated with Candida infection, and possibly the organism itself, plays a role in affecting the memory of women with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and this is an avenue that needs to be further explored.’
She explained that ‘Because Candida is a natural component of the human body microbiome, yeast overgrowth or infection in the digestive tract, for example, may disrupt the gut-brain axis. This disruption in conjunction with an abnormally functioning immune system could collectively disturb those brain processes that are important for memory.’
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