Here’s another reason to take steps to prevent diabetes—and to keep your blood sugar under control if you do have it: A large study in the Annals of Internal Medicine has confirmed that the disease increases the risk of memory problems and other cognitive impairment as you age.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and other institutions tracked more than 13,350 people, ages 48 to 67, for two decades. Participants who had type 2 diabetes at the start of the study (about 1,780 people) showed 30 percent more cognitive decline over the years, on average, than those without type 2 diabetes. Poor control of the disease and longer duration were associated with greater declines. People with prediabetes—elevated blood sugar but below the cutoff for diabetes)—had modestly increased cognitive problems. Earlier research has also found a link between diabetes and memory loss or other forms of cognitive decline.
Diabetes may harm the brain by damaging blood vessels and increasing inflammation, among other effects. Keeping blood sugar under control “may offer an important opportunity for the prevention of cognitive decline, thus delaying progression to dementia,” the researchers concluded. Steps that can help prevent diabetes include maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, eating lots of and vegetables, and limiting your intake of added sugar.