People without diabetes who have blood sugar levels at the high end of the normal range may have the same risk of brain shrinkage as those with the metabolic condition, according to a new study.
Nicolas Cherbui, PhD, of the Australian National University in Canberra, and colleagues examined nearly 250 people aged 60 to 64 who had blood sugar in the normal range, as defined by the World Health Organization. The participants underwent brain scans at the start of the study and again four years later.
The researchers found that individuals with higher fasting blood sugar levels within the normal range but below 6.1 mmol/l (the starting level for pre-diabetes) were more likely to lose volume in the areas of the brain involved in memory and cognitive skills than those with lower glycemic values – indicating that a high but not diabetic-high sugar count could have the same detrimental effects on the brain as diabetes.
“Numerous studies have shown a link between type 2 diabetes and brain shrinkage and dementia, but we haven’t known much about whether people with blood sugar on the high end of normal experience these same effects,” Cherbuin explained.
“These findings suggest that even for people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels could have an impact on brain health.”
He added that if the results are confirmed through further studies, they could lead to a re-evaluation “of the concept of normal blood sugar levels and the definition of diabetes”.
The research appears in the print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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