How Hidden Chronic Infections Cause Many Surprise Diseases

These days we know that aging is as much about inflammation as anything else. Infections and inflammation are never very far apart.

It has become clear that many chronic, under-the-radar infections that linger in the body produce the steady, destructive, decay processes that marks aging. That’s bad news.

For instance, we know now that atherosclerosis (heart disease, strokes) is caused by chronic infections, NOT cholesterol and bad fats. Fatty deposits are the result, not the cause, of arterial damage. The feared “plaques” are Nature’s own doing, designed to wall off inflammatory patches caused by hidden bacterial attacks [this was written up in Scientific American a few years back, can’t remember exactly when].

Oxidation of fats in these plaques are the real problem but fats are not the cause of the

problem. Inflammation, and hence oxidation (rancidity), are the real killers.

The two chief suspects for this smoldering inflammation are bacteria called Chlamydia pneumoniae (thought to cause pneumonia) and Porphyromonas gingivalis (a cause of gum disease). Other culprits likely include viruses such as Herpes, CMV and maybe Epstein-Barr.

Despite the medical profession’s obsession with smoking, blood fats and personality factors (such as type A personality), it’s probable that these two pathogens and their malign effects are the main cause of arterial disease.

It would explain why some smokers live beyond 100 and hyper-stressed driver personalities DON’T all keel over with coronary insufficiency!

I’m sure you’ve heard the cholesterol, smoking and stress story hundreds of times,. Today, let’s look at the evidence for the other picture (well, some of it; there’s a LOT).

Consider a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. Researchers investigated selected men between 39 and 45 years old and tested their levels of coronary artery calcification, one of the best markers for heart disease and likely fatality. They found NO correlation with stress whatever.

The only thing they unearthed was that hypochondriacs were less likely to have coronary artery calcification. Biologist Paul Ewald suggests this might be because hypochondriacs are more likely to receive antibiotics! That would reduce hidden infections.

It’s plausible. Another study could back this up: in 1999 in The Journal Of The American Medical Association published a study in which greater use of tetracycline was associated with fewer heart attacks.

This bacterial inflammation hypothesis would also neatly explain why second-hand smoke is dangerous: it exposes the body to chemical irritation and subsequent invasion by pathogens, even though present in only very small quantities. As Paul Ewald comments, it may be more a case of second-hand infections!

Of course I’m not saying that diet, lifestyle and smoking etc are not issues. I am saying you can do everything right and still drop dead 20 years before your time, because of these d***ed bugs!

C. pneumoniae may also turn out to be a cause or contributive factor to multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found a definite correlation between MS and C. pneumoniae. The whole topic is hotly debated because many laboratories cannot replicate the association in tests of their own.

But it turns out that this is because laboratories are not doing it right. A blinded experiment run by Multiple Sclerosis Institute of the Carolinas Medical center, in which samples of patient’s blood disguised with different names was sent to different laboratories, came back showing that Vanderbilt University had a much more sensitive detection test.

The same argument broke out over the association with Alzheimer’s. Again it was laboratory technique that was lacking. James Mahoney at Massachusetts University failed to confirm the association but he had the sense to call Alan Hudson, one of the senior editors in the original study. Hudson explained to Mahoney that each brain sample needed to be tested several times before correlating the results.

He did and Mahoney then found what Hudson’s team had found.

Which all amounts to the following very interesting conclusion: if you want to be truly healthy and live long, you had better start worrying about having an industrial strength immune system that can at least compress this phenomenon and handicap so-called stealth pathogens.

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Dr. Keith Scott Mumby

Keith Scott-Mumby MD, MB ChB, PhD is the author of several books, including “Diet Wise” and “Virtual Medicine”. He’s British by birth but now resides in California.  Learn more at

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  1. says

    Maybe healthiertalk had better start looking at the hyperbaric oxygen treatment equipment as the way to go to build that strong immune system, since research has demonstrated that HBOT does cure not only MS but also is used successfully for pneumonia (without antibiotics but antioxidants instead) in other countries than the US. AND the best way to build that immune system that muscles out the bad microbes is to keep the good ones well established, hence pro-biotics. Don’t d*mn all the ‘bugs’. The HBOT is even indicated as the only real solution for sepsis, the real end-killer, to be replacing every piece of the heinous current ‘resuscitation’ technology. If you can write a DNI (do not intubate) even now, why can’t you write a DO REANIMATE WITH HBOT instruction. We want an end to the current 911 practices.

  2. Lori says

    There’s alot of evidence that vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 status is linked to heart health.
    And then there’s CoQ10:
    Maybe what underlies the bacterial infections is poor immunity resulting from malnutrition. After all, Americans seem to be overfed but undernourished.

  3. Tom CHHC says

    This why we should all take REALLY good care of our teeth and gums. Bacteria can directly enter our bloodstreams through our gums if we have deep “pockets”– spaces where the gums have receded away from the teeth. The correlation between periodontal disease and heart disease is well known. We need to brush and floss with a water jet at least twice a day, but preferably after every meal. And avoid foods that are bad for our teeth and gums.

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