Type 2 Diabetes Linked to Difficulties With Mental Tasks
WebMD News Archive
Although the study was not designed to determine how diabetes might affect
the brain, the researchers were able to rule out some other factors that are
often associated with aging or with diabetes, such as blood vessel narrowing
that could lead to decreased blood flow to the brain or stroke, high blood
pressure, or depression.
"From a research point of view, it makes us think about what is the link
between diabetes and cognitive function," David A. Bennett, MD, tells
Bennett, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, is with the Rush
Alzheimer's Disease Center and department of neurological sciences at
Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. "Why do people with
diabetes lose cognitive abilities? The easiest explanation is that diabetes is
associated with strokes, but on the other hand, that may not be true. It may
actually be related to insulin metabolism and the way the brain deals with
insulin and diabetes," he says.
Bennett says that because type 2 diabetes is caused by the body's increasing
inability to use insulin to process glucose, the major form of sugar in the
blood, the disease may somehow alter the ability of individual nerve cells in
the brain to store and use glucose. Some brain researchers think that problems
with glucose metabolism may cause or contribute to Alzheimer's disease or other
forms of dementia.
The study was supported in part by grants from the Public Health Service of
the National Institutes of Health.
- A new study shows that older women with type 2 diabetes are more likely to
have problems with memory, concentration, and general mental tasks compared to
- Men were not included in the study, but researchers suspect the findings
would apply to them as well.
- Two possible explanations for the results are that the disease is
associated with strokes, or that insulin metabolism is altered in the brain of