This startling hypothesis was presented by several scientists at the 10th International Conference on Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders held in July 2006.  Is it true?


As you may be aware Alzheimer Disease is a form of dementia that has a progressive decline in the mental function that is faster and more severe than normal. Damaged nerves in the brain atrophy or disappear altogether and over time these changes cause loss of memory, loss of language, loss of coordination, in ability to recognize people or objects, and loss of other mental abilities. Former President Reagan suffered from Alzheimer Disease.


This link between Alzheimer Disease and diabetes will bring increased problems for both the health-care system and families. Aging baby boomers will increase the number of people with dementia and the growing number of overweight people will inevitably lead to more people with diabetes thus increasing the number of people with Alzheimer Disease who will need expensive care.


What does all this mean? According to one of the studies performed and reported at the Conference in July 2006, researchers found that even people without diabetes who had higher blood glucose levels were linked with a greater risk of Alzheimer Disease and other forms of dementia.


At the start of the study, which lasted for several years, the researchers had classified 47 people out of 1,173 people in the study to have “borderline diabetes”. The researchers determined that 67% of the 47 were more likely than the rest of the group to develop dementia and 77% more likely to develop Alzheimer Disease. Amazingly, the researchers also discovered that the risk increased even more in the people who had both borderline diabetes and severe high blood pressure.


Another study followed 22,852 Californians age 50 and over who had Type 2 diabetes for several years. This study discovered that those people who started with a long term blood glucose control test between 10% and 11.9% were 16% more likely to develop dementia than those whose control test were below 10%. In addition, those with levels between 12% and 14.9% had a 25% greater chance of dementia and those with levels above 15% had an 85% greater chance.


The researchers concluded that increasingly poorer blood glucose control was associated with an increasingly higher risk of dementia.


Yet another study found that even in people without diabetes, higher blood glucose levers were linked with a greater risk of Alzheimer Disease and other forms of dementia.


These studies suggest that keeping diabetes under good control may reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer Disease and other kinds of dementia.


As the evidence mounts as to the connection between Alzheimer Disease and diabetes, some good may actually be attributed to these findings. The current therapies used to treat diabetes such as diet, exercise and drugs, may help people with Alzheimer Disease as well.


It also appears that keeping your blood glucose and blood pressure under control wouldn’t hurt either. Just as Mom always said, eat right, watch your weight, exercise and get enough rest and you will be just fine. Boy, I hate it when Mom is right.



Valerie Slaughter is a veteran marathoner who has run numerous marathons, including the New York City Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon.  You can find helpful hints and tips on getting into shape, running and diet at