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Researchers Believe Alzheimer's May Be Contagious In Rare Cases

BOSTON (CBS) – London researchers have discovered something quite surprising. It may be possible that Alzheimer's, in rare cases, can be passed from person to person, not like the spread of a cold virus, but through contaminated instruments or treatments.

Neurologists were studying the brains of people who had developed a rare condition called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after being exposed years ago to injections of contaminated human growth hormone that had been donated by elderly patients.

The doctors were shocked to see that most of the patients also had amyloid protein in their brains, the protein associated with Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's is currently thought to be caused by genes and the environment but now scientists think it's possible that amyloid protein "seeds" may stick to metal surfaces and in rare cases be passed on to others.

Scientists caution that this is a theory and has not been proven and that people should not worry about catching Alzheimer's through casual contact or even during surgery or other medical procedures.  It's simply an area that needs to be investigated further.

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