Scientists from Stony Brook University found that normal brain aging is accelerated by about 26% in people with type 2 diabetes compared to people without the disease.
The research is published in eLife and was conducted by Botond Antal et al.
There is already strong evidence linking type 2 diabetes with cognitive decline, yet few patients currently undergo a comprehensive cognitive assessment as part of their clinical care.
It can be difficult to distinguish between normal brain aging that begins in middle age, and brain aging caused or accelerated by diabetes.
To date, no studies have directly compared neurological changes in healthy people over the course of their lifespan with changes to those experienced by people of the same age with diabetes.
In the study, the team examined the link between typical brain aging and that seen in type 2 diabetes.
They made use of the largest available brain structure and function dataset across human lifespan: UK Biobank data from 20,000 people aged 50 to 80 years old.
The team found that type 2 diabetes follows a similar pattern of neurodegeneration as aging, but one that progresses faster.
People with diabetes had a further 13.1% decrease in executive function beyond age-related effects, and their processing speed decreased by a further 6.7% compared to people of the same age without diabetes.
People with type 2 diabetes had consistently and markedly lower cognitive performance compared to healthy individuals who were the same age and similarly educated.
The findings showed that even typical brain aging may reflect changes in the brain’s regulation of blood sugar by insulin.
They further suggest that by the time type 2 diabetes is formally diagnosed, there may already be significant structural damage to the brain.
Sensitive ways to detect diabetes-associated changes to the brain are therefore urgently needed.
If you care about brain health, please read studies that a low-carb diet may help reverse brain aging, and standing at a church pulpit, a blood vessel burst in her brain.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about common food oil in the U.S. that can change genes in the brain, and results showing these two common habits can make your brain age fast.
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