Possible Connections Between Dementia and Diabetes

May 7, 2020 | Understanding Dementia

Although there is no cure for dementia, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk for developing dementia. Research suggests that some chronic conditions can cause the risk of developing dementia to increase. One condition that has been studied in relation to dementia is diabetes. 

Based upon the work of several studies, there are a few potential links between dementia and diabetes. Diabetes can cause problems with blood flow because blood vessels can become damaged. When the brain doesn't receive adequate blood flow, it can lead to cognitive impairment such as vascular dementia. Another possible connection is the way that the brain uses and processes sugar. When the brain is able to go through glycolysis (making energy from sugar) it can help to remove toxins from the brain which are known to be connected to Alzheimer's disease. The glycolysis process is impaired when an individual has diabetes. A protein called ApoE2 found in some people has also been shown to improve the process of glycolysis which possibly strengthens brain health and protection from developing Alzheimer's. A study done by the University of Southern California also found that individuals who had diabetes but were not treating their condition with medication developed memory loss and other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease 1.6 times more quickly than individuals who did not suffer from diabetes. This data shows the importance of keeping chronic conditions under control and taking medication if prescribed by your doctor.

More research needs to be done to help further understand what the direct links could be between diabetes and dementia, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent disease. Eating a healthy diet low in fat and sugar, exercising, and visiting your doctor on a regular basis are just a few ways that you can help to improve your health. 

Learn More:

Mayo Clinic

NPR

University of Southern California