Treating type 2 diabetes may lower Alzheimer's disease risk

Controlling type 2 diabetes symptoms may produce many health benefits. Now, a new study from a team of Chinese researchers adds the decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease to the list.

Investigators from the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, reported in the latest issue of the journal Neurology that individuals with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol who sought treatment for these conditions were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Multiple previous studies have shown that individuals with poor cardiovascular and metabolic health are more likely to experience cognitive impairment as they grow older. However, the present investigation is among the first to indicate that treating these conditions reverses this risk.

For the study, researchers examined 837 individuals who already showed signs of mild cognitive decline, which is characterized by occasional memory problems and is thought to precede Alzheimer's disease. Half of the group also had at least one cardio-metabolic risk factor, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Participants completed tests of mental ability and submitted full medical histories. Individuals with cardio-metabolic health problems were then placed into one of three groups depending on whether they were currently seeking treatment for all of their conditions, some of them or none.

After following the participants for a period of five years, the researchers found that those who had all of their conditions treated were 39 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, compared to those who received no treatment. Those who were treated for some of their conditions reduced their risk by 25 percent.

These findings provide further evidence that taking steps to control type 2 diabetes symptoms may contribute to good overall health.