Could diabetes lead to Alzheimer's? New research from Japan has connected the two diseases.
The findings of a new study could affect more than 100 million Americans who are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
Japanese researchers evaluated more than 1,000 elderly men and women for 15 years. The result was the most comprehensive study on the link between diabetes and dementia.
Researchers concluded that seniors with diabetes are twice as likely as the rest of the population to develop some form of dementia.
"The connection between diabetes and dementia is somewhat broad. Diabetes has long been known to be a risk factor for hardening of the arteries and hardening of the arteries as it affects the brain in turn can cause strokes," explained Dr. Richard Caselli, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic.
"Many or otherwise and lead to now what is being called Vascular Dementia," he said.
Scientists say it is still unclear what exactly connects two diseases. But doctors say they are hopeful the new information can help them improve the lives of patients suffering from Alzheimer's.
They say the next step is understanding if using insulin to reduce sugar can somehow help with the symptoms of Alzheimer's.
"The idea that insulin might actually improve brain functioning in people with Alzheimer's disease really is a novel approach to treating the dementia associated with Alzheimer's," one doctor remarked.
Physicians say the study is a reminder for people to work to reduce their risk factors for diabetes and for those who already have diabetes to keep their blood sugar under control.