Type 2 Diabetes Increases Dementia Risk

With all the research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, new findings come to light every day. One of the most recent projects has determined a link between diabetes and dementia. It has been discovered that people with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk for dementia. In addition, the condition brings greater risk to women than to men.

How Diabetes Contributes to Dementia

How is Alzheimer’s caused? No one really knows yet – that’s why so many researchers are frantic to learn more about the disease. But one thing is known: that high levels of blood sugar have a negative effect on the brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, here are the three reasons diabetes can contribute to dementia: 

  • Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, which hurt the heart and blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels in the brain may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The brain depends on many different chemicals, which may be unbalanced by too much insulin. Some of these changes may help trigger Alzheimer’s disease.
  • High blood sugar causes inflammation. This may damage brain cells and help Alzheimer’s to develop.

A Higher Risk for Women

On December 17, Rachel Huxley, a researcher from the School of Public Health at Curtin University in Perth Australia, published her findings in the Diabetes Care journal. She and her team collected data from over 2.5 million participants over 14 different studies to discover that “women with type 2 diabetes may have a nearly 20 percent higher risk of developing vascular dementia than men with diabetes.” However, the risk of getting the normal strain of dementia in both men and women who have diabetes was discovered to be 60 percent — far more risk than any individual without diabetes.

Says Huxley, “We still don’t fully understand why women with diabetes are at excess risk of vascular disease, and it may be related to sex hormones. It may also be that blood glucose levels in women with diabetes are much more … difficult to control than in men with diabetes.”

Control Your Risk 

So what can you do to reduce your risk of diabetes and dementia? The Alzheimer’s Association says you should be exercising at least 30 minutes every day, five days a week. Join a gym, take a dance class, take a walk around the block — stay active. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet, low in fat. Speak with your doctor about healthy living.

Huxley says, even if you have diabetes, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will contract dementia.

“Individuals at risk of developing diabetes and those with overt diabetes can do many things to reduce their risk of dementia, such as quitting smoking, increasing the level of physical activity, eating a healthy diet, minimizing alcohol intake and even losing a few pounds.”

“The take-home message is that for many people — with and without diabetes — dementia is not inevitable. Maintaining a healthy weight, watching what you eat and keeping your brain fit and active are some of the things that may reduce future risk of dementia. There’s some truth in the adage, ‘A healthy body equals a healthy mind.'”