Monday, May 7, 2012

Having diabetes causes your brain to shrink faster

Scientists have found an interesting correlation between diabetes and brain size. According to a recent study, elderly people suffering from a condition known as pre-diabetes or full-blown diabetes type 2 show increased deterioration of the brain. While it is normal for the brain to shrink when you get older, a link with diabetes greatly speeds up the process.

Scientists from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia tracked a total of 312 participants for two years and performed MRI scans to analyse their brains. All of the test subjects were between 70 and 90 years old, and some of them were diagnosed with diabetes. The study also included people with a condition called pre-diabetes, which is marked with fluctuating blood sugar levels, a sign that the body is struggling with maintaining balance, eventually leading up to full-blown diabetes.
An MRI scanner.
After comparing the MRI scans taken two years apart, the scientists found that the group of people categorized as healthy had lost some of their brain cells, but for those who started off in the study with diabetes type 2 lost 2,3 times as much of their brain. The same goes for people who showed worsening of their blood sugar levels over the two years in which the study was performed. When looking at the group diagnosed with pre-diabetes, scientists found an 1,4 fold increase in brain loss when compared to the healthy group. The loss of brain tissue was found to be associated with increased difficulty of processing cognitive thoughts. This includes decision-making, emotional control, and long term memory.

The results indicate that diabetes type 2 is bad for your neurological features. Once you lose parts of your brain, it is impossible to get it back. And because ageing is already associated with loss of brains cells, it is best to preserve as many of them as possible. Because loss of cells equals loss of brain function, it is important to discover why diabetes causes faster brain shrinking. Regardless of the underlying mechanism, diabetes is proving to be an ever-increasing problem: recent studies have pointed out  that it is especially dangerous in children, which have seen an increase in diabetes type 2 incidence due to bad diet habits.

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