This article about the links between Diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia, published by Huffington Post, has been well publicized over the past week or so. I think the publicity is well deserved and I want to summarize some if its highlights for my readers.
First of all, the article describes Diabetes in a clear and simple manner: an inability to control levels of sugar in the blood. You can get more complex and drill down on diffenerences between Type I (body doesn't make insulin) and Type II (body doesn't respond to insulin) but it can be grasped quite usefully in its simplest defined form.
What I found so valuable in the article was the clarity with which it established the path by which diabetes increases risk for both Alzheimer's and dementia. This passage is particularly noteworthy:
The most obvious reason that Diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer's Dementia is because it increases the incidence of heart disease; high blood pressure; high levels of fat in the form of triglycerides in the blood; decreases in the levels of the good cholesterol, HDL; and increases in levels of the bad cholesterol, LDL. All of these factors are individually known to increase the risk of Alzheimer's Dementia. These conditions also increase the risk of stroke and other forms of damage to blood vessels in the brain, which thus increases the risk of vascular dementia.Additionally, the article goes on to describe several direct roles of insulin in a healthy and normally functioning brain. If the body, for whatever reason, is either not producing or not responding to insulin, many neurological processes may also become disrupted and cognition can be impaired.
While the relationship between Diabetes and Alzheimer's is often mentioned in the press, rarely is it so cogently described.