Scientists find two big risk factors for cognitive decline

In a new study, researchers found that in older adults with excess belly fat, sustained elevations of blood sugar were linked to a higher risk of cognitive decline.

In older adults without excess belly fat, the hormone adiponectin appeared to be a likely risk factor for cognitive decline.

Adiponectin is a protein hormone that is involved in regulating glucose levels as well as fatty acid breakdown.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Pittsburgh.

The team tested 478 people aged 65 years or older who were examined annually for 10 years, with funding from the National Institute on Aging.

They measured fasting blood for markers of glycemia (HbA1c), insulin resistance, obesity, adiponectin, and inflammation in the people.

The researchers found that the fasting blood for markers of glycemia was strongly linked to cognitive decline in people with a big waist‐hip ratio.

In people with a small waist‐hip ratio, cognitive decline was linked to high levels of adiponectin.

The findings—which were only observed among those younger than 87 to 88 years old—may eventually point to different strategies for preventing cognitive decline in different groups of older adults.

The team says the next steps will be in-depth clinical and laboratory studies to fully understand the biological mechanisms underlying the associations that we observed.

The lead author of the study is Mary Ganguli, MD, MPH from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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