Type 2 Diabetes Linked to Difficulties With Mental Tasks
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 26, 2000 (Boston) -- Older women with type 2 diabetes are more likely
to have problems with memory, concentration, and general mental tasks than
nondiabetic women, according to CDC researchers.
Men were not included in the study, which was part of a larger overall study
of the consequences of fractures in women with osteoporosis, but the findings
would likely apply to them as well, the researchers tell WebMD.
In a six-year study of more than 9,500 women aged 65 and over, women with
type 2 diabetes scored lower on three cognitive (mental-function) tests and had
a greater rate of decline in mental function over 3-6 years than did women
The study also showed that women who had diabetes for 15 years or longer
were most likely to have experienced a decline in abilities such as attention,
language, and eye-hand coordination, write Edward W. Gregg, PhD, and
colleagues. The results of the study appear in the Jan. 24 issue of the
Archives of Internal Medicine.
"Our finding of an increased risk of cognitive decline associated with
diabetes has important clinical, public health, and social ramifications.
Cognitive impairment may be considered a potential long-term outcome of
diabetes that clinicians should be aware of while taking care of older adults
with diabetes," they write.
Earlier studies have led the researchers to expect some differences in
mental function between diabetic and nondiabetic women. "What did come as
something of a surprise, though, was that there's a 70% increased risk of a
major decline on average, and that people who are taking insulin had a higher
risk of cognitive decline. We don't think it was the insulin itself, but rather
that insulin use was a marker of severity of disease," says Gregg, a
researcher with the CDC's division of diabetes translation.
Gregg tells WebMD that although it is still unclear exactly how diabetes
might affect mental processes, the best course of action for patients with type
2 diabetes may be to follow their doctors' advice and carefully control their
blood sugar levels through the right combination of diet, exercise, medication,
and, if necessary, insulin.