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December 2023
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As Diabetes Domino Drops, Alzheimer’s Risk Rises

Wake Forest Researchers Link Diabetes to Dementia Risk

Genomic mapping of APOE, which is one of the markers for Alzheimer's

Genomic mapping of APOE, which is one of the markers for Alzheimer's

The ongoing financial crisis the country is embroiled in has opened my eyes to how intricate a web our economic structure is.  The so-called domino effect of the economic collapse – starting with the housing bubble bursting,  leading to a chorus of bursting bubbles up and down Main Street and Wall Street – is a very real thing, and its effects can be seen everywhere, from the tumbling stock market, skyrocketing jobless claims, nixed newspapers, and bailout bonanzas.

But the domino effect is not solely a function of the economy; it’s also found in health matters.

For a number of weeks now, story after story I’ve written has talked about the linkage of one disease to another, how having one disease exacerbates the risk of having another.

This time, it’s with regards to Alzheimer’s risk. 

More than five million people in the country have Alzheimer’s, one of the most painful diseases to watch anyone experience because its effects mentally rob Alzheimer’s victims of everything they once were at a slow but sure pace. 

Thankfully, tireless researchers uncover more and more about it and what habits, diseases and lifestyles serve as it’s precursor, or alternatively, as it’s preventer (my section on Alzheimer’s is a testament to that).  To this point, research suggests lifestyle and environmental factors do play a role, but the chief contributor is one that none of us can change:  genetics.

I suppose it depends on the person as to whether this brings a sense of coolness or fearfulness – the knowledge that since it’s out of your hands, why worry, or since it’s out of your hands, that’s exactly why you worry.

I tend to side with the former, because all we can control is our actions and our behaviors.  That said, I bring to you the latest on what researchers say exacerbates the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to a study conducted by researchers from Wake Forest University and published in the journal DiabetesCare, people with diabetes are more at risk for developing Alzheimer’s because of the way insulin resistance affects the brain.  They discovered this link after conducting what the Associated Press referred to as a “battery” of tests on 3,000 people with Type 2 diabetes.  These tests measured the participants’ cognitive function, or their ability to think, reason, and remember certain cues. 

Another test they performed measured their A1C score, which gives an indication of the participants’ blood glucose levels as they rise and fall.  These scores were tracked and conducted over several months.

When comparing the A1C scores to the diabetics’ cognitive function tests, they found that whenever glucose levels rose, cognition testing scores declined.  While the drops in scores were small from month to month, they were nonetheless “meaningful,” or so the Demon Deacons’ researchers consider them, because they provide a clearer picture of how insulin resistance adversely affects brain cells.  

Obviously, this news can’t sit well with the estimated 24 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s.  But researchers stress that diabetics’ ought not panic, for there are many Alzheimer’s sufferers (I would suggest the lion’s share) who don’t have diabetes.  Further, as aforementioned, genetics still plays the largest role in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.  Plus, there are other diseases diabetics are more at risk in developing, like heart disease and high blood pressure.

Not exactly a calming rest assurance, is it?

I hate to conclude articles with bad news, especially in times like these where gloom and doom seems so pervasive.  All one can do is their very best.  As you’ll find in my Alzheimer’s section, there’s a wealth of studies showing how lifestyle factors play a huge role in preventing, or hastening, Alzheimer’s onset.  I encourage you to read them and apply them in your life – whether you have diabetes or not.

All we can do is our very best to stay healthy and avoid Alzheimer’s.  By staying informed on Alzheimer’s, how to beat it, and then applying those teachings to your life, you’re doing exactly that.

Associated Press
The Washington Post

Related Posts

  1. Sleeping Habits Linked to Diabetes Risk, According to Study
  2. Obesity Raises Diabetes Risk More Than Inactivity, Study Finds
  3. Black Soy Beans Shown to Lower Diabetes Risk, Study Finds
  4. Diabetes Diagnoses Latest Rising Trend
  5. Sugary Drinks Increase Diabetes Risk in African-American Women

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