A compound associated with Alzheimer’s disease is also found in high amounts in people with diabetes – evidence that researchers have been looking for as the link between the two diseases.
Scientists already knew that having Type 2 diabetes was a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, but weren’t sure what caused the link.
A new study showed that people with diabetes have increased levels of a specific neurotoxin that is considered the cause of memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. People without diabetes don’t have the same elevated levels of that same compound, which is called an amyloid beta oligomer.
Researchers explained that these oligomers cause insulin resistance, so for those with diabetes, there is a build-up of these neurotoxins. This particular type of oligomer attaches to neurons and causes insulin resistance in the brain, and insulin is known to be important for memory function.
An earlier study had already found another dangerous link to Alzheimer’s – being overweight. Carrying extra weight can already be a risk factor for developing diabetes, so keeping your weight under control is important for yet another reason.
The study showed that extra body fat was linked to dangerous blood flow changes in the brain that made it shrink in size. Smaller brains were more likely to develop problems like Alzheimer’s and other memory-related illnesses.