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Diabetes in Middle Age Raises Alzheimer's Risk
Date:4/9/2008

Researchers speculate that insulin problems could damage blood vessels in the brain

WEDNESDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Men who develop diabetes in middle age may be at greater risk of Alzheimer's disease, a Swedish study finds.

"Our results have important public health implications given the increasing numbers of people developing diabetes and the need for more powerful interventions," study author Dr. Elina Ronnemaa, of Uppsala University, said in a statement.

The study included nearly 2,300 Swedish men who had glucose testing at age 50 to check for diabetes, a metabolic disease caused by abnormal insulin levels. The men were then followed for 32 years. The results: 102 were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, 57 with vascular dementia, and 235 with other types of dementia or cognitive impairment, the researchers said.

The study found that the men with low insulin levels at age 50 were nearly one-and-a-half times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than men who didn't have insulin problems. The risk of Alzheimer's increased, regardless of blood pressure, cholesterol, body-mass index and education.

"Our results suggest a link between insulin problems and the origins of Alzheimer's disease and emphasize the importance of insulin in normal brain function," Ronnemaa said. "It's possible that insulin problems damage blood vessels in the brain, which leads to memory problems and Alzheimer's disease, but more research is needed to identify the exact mechanisms."

The findings were published in the April 9 online issue of Neurology.

Another study, published in the April 8 print issue of Neurology, found that depression appears to more than double the risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Depression has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's, and many researchers have suspected that risk is tied to changes in the brain caused by depression. The theory ha
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