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Diabetes and Alzheimer's disease May be Two Sides of the Same Coin

Recent studies have suggested that some links exist between Alzheimer's and Type 2 diabetes, which has caused scientists to question whether the two are actually// different forms of the same disease.

Researchers have found that the damage Type 2 diabetes causes to the pancreas is similar to the effect of Alzheimer's on the brain.

These studies were shown on Saturday during the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in Madrid, Spain.

It has been found that Alzheimer's patients exhibit a build up of amyloid plaque in their brains. A similar build up of amyloid occurs in the pancreas of type 2 diabetics, which could lead to the death of insulin-producing cells.

Dr. Patrick McGeer, of the University of British Columbia said, "This is another similarity between these two conditions."

In addition it has been found that those suffering from diabetes have also an estimated 70 percent increased risk of developing memory and attention problems, which are symptoms of Alzheimer's. Doctors attribute this to the toxins produced by diabetes that negatively affect the brain's ability to use sugar.

During the scientists meeting in Madrid several studies have been reviewed that suggest controlling Type 2 diabetes can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's.

In addition it has been found that the same drugs, which are used to control blood sugar levels, may also slow, or even prevent, the dementia risk.

These apparent connections between Alzheimer's and Type 2 diabetes has caused concern among health officials, because with the increasing rates of obesity among Canadians their risk of developing diabetes is also higher.

According to the Canadian Press obesity is surpassing smoking as the leading cause of preventable death, and about one-quarter of Canada's population is obese.

As CTV's Avis Favaro said, "With more and more people d eveloping Type 2 diabetes, largely because of too much food and not enough exercise, doctors worry this will lead to thousands more cases of Alzheimer's disease if more isn't done to control and prevent diabetes.'

McGeer said, "It's a common disorder, and if we can nail down the cause and develop an effective treatment, that would be a big medical advance."


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