The Alarming Diabetes-Alzheimer’s Connection
The possible complications posed by diabetes—heart disease and damage to eyes, feet, nerves and so forth—are fairly familiar to the general public. But in recent years, scientists have been scrutinizing a risk that is both less well known and less understood—the heightened likelihood of dementia.
Researchers have known for several years about diabetes and the higher risk of vascular dementia, the second most common kind. In ways, it seems only logical: Vascular dementia is caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain, just as diabetes hardens blood vessels elsewhere.
The latest research is focused on Alzheimer’s disease, the most common neurodegenerative disorder and one for which it’s harder to figure out the precise relationship with diabetes. On this much, many scientists agree: The rate of Alzheimer’s disease could be cut by close to half if diabetes could be abolished. The connection between the two is so strong that Suzanne M. de la Monte, one of the top researchers in the field, has said that many cases of Alzheimer’s could be dubbed Type 3 diabetes.
People who haven’t necessarily developed diabetes might still develop insulin resistance in the brain, said de la Monte, a professor of neurosurgery, pathology and laboratory medicine at Brown University. That’s why she uses the term Type 3 diabetes—one doesn’t necessarily cause the other. But in both cases, she said, people show certain markers at the cellular level.
“Growing evidence supports the concept that Alzheimer’s disease is fundamentally a metabolic disease with molecular and biochemic Continue reading