Diabetics face a plethora of issues such as amputations and vision problems. And now diabetics can add another major problem to the list: memory loss.

CBS news reports on diabetes shrinking the brain of diabetics.

Many people with type 2 diabetes are losing brain volume as they get older.

Priceless brain cells that help people think and remember are dying in the brains of diabetics. CBS explains what is causing this most disconcerting outcome, “Surprisingly, this shrinkage doesn't appear to be linked to the damaging effect of diabetes on tiny blood vessels in the brain, but instead by how the brain handles excess sugar. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for stroke and dementia, he said. Until now, doctors have thought these risks were likely related to blood vessel damage related to diabetes.”

The physicians who authored the study gave a detailed analysis of their findings, “We have known for a long time that diabetes is not good for the brain. But our study suggests that there is additional damage to the brain, which may be more like a brain disorder such as Alzheimer's disease. So there may be two ways diabetes affects the brain, damage to blood vessels and brain-cell degeneration. It is important that patients understand the adverse effect of their disease on their brains and cooperate with their doctors who are trying to treat their diabetes and prevent the effects of diabetes on the brain and other organs.”

The study’s conclusion was actually quite alarming for diabetes patients. It showed, “They found that the longer a patient had the disease, the more brain volume loss occurred, particularly in the gray matter. Gray matter includes areas of the brain involved in muscle control, seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making and self-control. In fact, for every 10 years someone had diabetes, it looked as if the brain was about two years older than the brain of someone without diabetes.”

Many physicians hope that this information will help people who are borderline in facing diabetes due to obesity or other similar factors take preventative steps to stop diabetes contraction from actually developing. Dr. Gandy from Mt. Sinai Hospital, who was not involved in the study, commented on the findings, “Diabetes over time also affects the brain, and can lead to thinking and memory problems like Alzheimer's disease. We need to control diabetes as soon as possible so that patients don't have brain problems.”


Gerry Oginski
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