Long-term type 2 diabetes linked to brain changes

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A recent study conducted at Michigan Medicine sought to unravel the impact of long-term type 2 diabetes on the brain.

Focusing on 51 middle-aged Pima American Indians with this health condition, the researchers employed memory and language tests, along with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, to shed light on significant findings that have implications for everyone.

What the MRI Revealed

Individuals with long-standing type 2 diabetes displayed notable alterations in their brain structure.

Specifically, their brain’s outer layer appeared thinner, they exhibited reduced gray matter, and an increased presence of white spots in their brains—irregularities that should not typically be present.

These MRI findings suggest that enduring type 2 diabetes can have detrimental effects on the brain. Therefore, the primary objective should be to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes to safeguard brain health.

Interestingly, despite these observable brain changes, individuals with diabetes performed equally well on memory and language tests compared to those without the condition.

Significance of the Findings

Evan Reynolds, a key figure in the study, highlighted the novelty of the brain changes identified. While the memory and language tests did not indicate any issues, the MRI images provided clear evidence of brain alterations.

This underscores the importance of screening for cognitive or memory problems in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Furthermore, the study revealed a connection between diabetes-related health issues, such as kidney problems or nerve complications in the heart, and brain changes.

Individuals who experienced these health complications alongside diabetes were more likely to exhibit brain structural changes.

Notably, nerve damage, a common occurrence in people with diabetes, did not appear to impact performance on memory and language tests.

Eva Feldman, a senior researcher in the study, emphasized the critical importance of preserving brain health in individuals with type 2 diabetes. She stressed the need to raise awareness of the risks diabetes poses to the brain.

Contributors and Support

The study brought together experts from institutions including Michigan Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Monash University, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Financial support for the research came from various sources, including Novo Nordisk, the American Academy of Neurology, the National Institute on Aging, Mayo Clinic, the University of Michigan, and others.

The authors of the study emphasized that the views expressed in the article are their own and may not necessarily reflect the positions of entities such as the National Institutes of Health.


This study offers valuable insights into the relationship between long-term type 2 diabetes and brain health. While the memory and language tests did not reveal deficits, MRI scans exposed structural brain changes.

These findings underscore the importance of vigilant monitoring for cognitive issues in individuals with type 2 diabetes. It also emphasizes the need to spread awareness about the potential impact of diabetes on brain health.

For those concerned about diabetes, it is advisable to explore studies on innovative approaches to early detection of diabetes-related vision problems and the potential benefits of incorporating eggs into the breakfast routine for individuals with diabetes.

Additionally, research shedding light on the leading cause of increased type 2 diabetes risk and dietary habits that may reduce diabetes-related high blood pressure can offer valuable insights into managing this condition.

The study was published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes, and what you need to know about avocado and type 2 diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about 5 dangerous signs you have diabetes-related eye disease, and results showing why pomegranate is super fruit for people with diabetes.

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