In a study that demonstrates yet another reason to take better care of ourselves as we age, a study conducted at Erasmus University Medical School in the Netherlands suggests that diabetes might increase the chances of dementia in the elderly.
The study involved 1,017 people, age 60 and older, who did not have dementia at the start of the study. Glucose tolerance tests given then showed that 458 of them had diabetes or pre-diabetes. Over the next 11 years, 232 people developed some type of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. Those with diabetes were about twice as likely to have developed dementia as were those with normal blood sugar levels. Pre-diabetes also increased the likelihood of a dementia diagnosis.
Who should be concerned? Older people with diabetes, which affects more than 8 percent of the U.S. population, including nearly 19 million diagnosed with the disease and 7 million others who have diabetes but are not aware of it. Dementia is not a normal part of aging, but the risk for developing it increases with age. Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, the most common type of dementia; that number is expected to triple by 2050.
The caveat to this study is that blood sugar levels were tested only at the start of the study and the study did not identify a biological connection between diabetes and dementia.
The abstract for this study can be found here: http://www.neurology.org/content/53/9/1937.abstract?sid=c9b8c863-17bb-4988-9cf0-30df3c3c56c5
To learn more about diabetes and how to prevent it and live with it, visit www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov.