Can Diabetes Increase Your Risk of Alzheimer’s?

Diabetes is a difficult disease to control for some of us. Sometimes, it seems like no matter what you eat, you can’t control your blood sugar levels. As it is, there are numerous reasons to keep your blood sugar levels in control. Now, there is another one. Researchers believe there is a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Since diabetes causes blood vessel damage, it is already linked to vascular dementia. Caused by blockages in the brain’s blood supply, vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. However, now researchers have found that people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s independent of vascular dementia.

In a Swedish study, researchers studied 1,173 participants over the age of 75. Participants with borderline Type 2 diabetes Synapse xt were 76% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those without diabetes. In another U.S. study, similar results were found. Researchers found the more elevated the blood sugar levels were, the higher the risk for Alzheimer’s. Although researchers are not sure why, there is another connection. One theory is that as your body produces more insulin to try to control the blood sugar levels, it may cause inflammation of the blood vessels.

Another theory about diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease is based on how the nervous system works in the brain. In addition to helping the body convert food into energy, insulin has another role in body. It is also needed to learn and form new memories. Memories are conceived at the synapse. A synapse is the space between two neurons. The synapse needs insulin to form a new memory. Consequently, if the synapse does not have enough insulin, memory can be impaired.

Furthermore, one of the characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease are plaques in the brain. Plaques consist of amyloid beta-derived diffusable ligands (ADDLs) which accumulate in between neurons and disrupt the brain’s ability to transfer signals and communicate. According to a team of scientists at Northwestern University, when ADDLs bind to the neurons at the synapses, it blocks the receptors for the insulin.

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