We already know that diabetes type 2 weakens our brain health and accelerates brain aging. But how strong is this influence compared to the normal brain aging?
A recent UK study investigated the impact of diabetes on the brain over and above normal aging. Researchers used the largest available brain structure and function UK Bionank data from 20.314 both healthy people and people with diabetes aged 50-80 years old. The information was used to see which brain and cognitive changes are specific to diabetes, rather than just normal brain aging.
The study showed that both aging and diabetes type 2 cause changes in executive functions (such as attention, planning and self-control), and changes in brain processing speed. However, people with diabetes had a further 13.1% decrease in executive function beyond age-related effects, and a a further 6.7% decrease in their processing speed compared to people of the same age without diabetes. These findings were confirmed by those those of other studies: people with diabetes type 2 had consistently lower cognitive performance compared to healthy ones of the same age and education.
The analysis of the brain structure and activity using MRI scans, showed that people with diabetes had extra loss of gray matter beyond the typical age-related effects. Especially the region of gray matter (vital to the executive functions), the ventral striatum of the gray matter, turned to suffer the most, with a further decrease of 6.2%, compared with normal aging.
To summarize the findings, suffering from diabetes type 2 seems to accelerate the brain aging by 26%, in total! Researchers highlight that by the time type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, there may already be significant irreversible brain damage. So, take care about your health on time and don’t let irreversible changes to take place in your brain!
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