A new study has found that diabetes, smoking and obesity could shrink your brain in middle age, which could lead to problems, such as Alzheimers, later in life. It was shown that maintaining risk factors such as your BMI, and blood sugar and blood pressure at healthy levels can help avoid potentially dangerous vascular changes in the brain.
The research, which was published in the journal Neurology, involved assessing information from 1,352 participants with an average age of 54 in the United States. Patients underwent tests for diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol, had their BMI and waist circumference checked, and also were given a series of MRI brain scans.
The respondents suffering from type 2 diabetes in their middle age experienced brain shrinkage in the hippocampus region of the brain quicker than those people without the condition. People who smoked were also shown to lose overall brain volume overall in the hippocampus at a quicker rate than non-smokers. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for memory and orientation which becomes damaged in the development of Alzheimers.
The patients that had high blood pressure experienced a more faster worsening of test scores regarding planning and decision-making, which were linked to a quicker rate of growth in small areas of vascular brain damage than those people who had normal blood pressure in the study.
Research author Charles DeCarli, commented that the study “has practical importance in confirming there are things we can do in middle age that can have effects 10, 20 and 30 years down the line to improve cognitive health.”

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