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Diabetes Significantly Increases Risk For Alzheimer's Disease And Other Dementia

January 29, 2009

Adapted from the University of Southern California

Diabetics have a significantly greater risk of dementia, both Alzheimer's disease—the most common form of dementia—and other dementia, reveals important new data from an ongoing study of twins. The risk of dementia is especially strong if the onset of diabetes occurs in middle age, according to the study.

"Our results . . . highlighted the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle during adulthood in order to reduce the risk of dementia late in life," explained Dr. Margaret Gatz, who directs the Study of Dementia in Swedish Twins.

In a study published in the January 2009 issue of Diabetes, Gatz and researchers from Sweden show that getting diabetes before the age of 65 corresponds to a 125 percent increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. Nearly 21 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, which publishes the journal.

This risk of Alzheimer's disease or other dementia was significant for mid-life diabetics—as opposed to those who develop diabetes after 65—even when controlling for family factors. In other studies, genetic factors and childhood poverty have been shown to independently contribute to the risk of both diabetes and dementia.

The results of the study implicate adult choices such as exercise, diet and smoking, as well as glycemic control in patients with diabetes, in affecting risk for Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, according to the researchers.

View all news updates for Alzheimer's disease


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