DIABETES IN MIDDLE AGE LINKED TO BRAIN CELL LOSS IN LATER YEARS

A number of previous studies suggest that type-2 diabetes may precipitate other medical conditions.  Rosebud O. Roberts, from the Mayo Clinic (Minnesota, USA), and colleagues studied 1,437 men and women, average age 80 years.  The participants had either no thinking or memory issues, or mild memory and thinking problems (mild cognitive impairment, MCI). Subjects underwent brain scans to look for markers of brain damage that can be a precursor to dementia. Participants’ medical records were reviewed to determine whether they had been diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure in middle age or later.  For diabetes, the researchers observed that 72 people developed it in middle age, 142 in old age and 1,192 did not have diabetes. Compared to people who did not have diabetes, those subjects who developed diabetes in middle age had total brain volume an average of 2.9% smaller. In the hippocampus area of the brain, the volume was 4% smaller. They were also twice as likely to have thinking and memory problems.  The study authors report that: “Midlife onset of diabetes may affect late-life cognition through loss of brain volume.”

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