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Alzheimer's Disease: What is the Diabetes Connection?

By Jody Smith HERWriter
how are Alzheimer's disease and diabetes linked? Vitaliy Pakhnyushchyy/PhotoSpin

Could type 2 diabetes lead to Alzheimers? Views on this matter are mixed as research continues.

According to an April 3, 2013 article on Mayoclinic.com, people with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, have a greater chance of having dementia including Alzheimer's disease. Conversely, managing or avoiding diabetes may also protect you from Alzheimers.

It is known that type 2 diabetes causes damage to the brain and body relative to sugar and the insulin response. Mild cognitive dysfunction can also be a result of type 2 diabetes. Is this a path to Alzheimer's disease?

Dr. Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., said on the Alzheimer’s Association website that diabetes increases the risk Alzheimer’s disease.

Gandy is Mount Sinai Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research Director, Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health and NFL Neurological Care Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry (Dual Primary Appointments) Associate Director, and Mount Sinai Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Gandy described one model researchers are considering where both Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes involve unchecked inflammation.

Fat deposits and blood vessels are affected by inflammation in diabetes. The brain experiences inflammation in Alzheimers. Researchers are investigating to see whether or not Alzheimers can be detected through C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which estimate the amount of inflammation in the brain and the body.

Mark Bittman wrote on Diabetes.org that Alzheimers may be a kind of diabetes brought on by a poor diet. Diabetes causes damage related to insulin resistance. When brain cells are affected, cognitive dysfunction which may be dementia, can result.

Insulin resistance, or a lack of insulin, can affect mental function, and may also be involved in creating beta amyloid plaques, abnormal proteins that replace normal brain cells.

According to Bittman, some researchers have conflicting views about whether or not Alzheimers should be considered type 3 diabetes or diabetes of the brain.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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Anonymous

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November 13, 2013 - 4:41am
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