A new study from Japan has found that people who are most at risk from type 2 diabetes are also more likely to suffer from brain abnormalities associated with Alzheimers disease.
The research, published in the journal Neurology, showed that people in their 60s that have higher-than-average levels of glucose or insulin, both signs of type 2 diabetes, are three to six times more likely to have certain protein deposits, or plaques, in their brains 10 years or so later. Although the plaques don’t necessarily lead to Alzheimer’s disease, they do increase the risk of people suffering from the condition.
The study examined the brains of 135 people from a single town in Japan who had died between 1998 and 2003; the researchers had already tested the participants’ glucose tolerance, a common test for diabetes, 10–15 earlier, and had also measured other factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index .
It found that those who had the highest levels of blood glucose, insulin and insulin resistance were more likely to have brain plaques, a distinguishing feature of Alzheimer’s, compared with participants that had healthier levels.
Scientists are focusing on the link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s in the hope that they can develop preventive drugs that target the insulin system in the future, although it is still possible that another unidentified factor may be contributing to both brain plaques and insulin resistance.

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