Adults with type 2 diabetes or depression have an increased risk of developing dementia, especially if they have both conditions, a new study suggests.
Over 2.4 million people in Denmark, aged 50 or older, were examined by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSM), United States.
19 per cent of the participants had depression, nine per cent had type 2 diabetes, and roughly four per cent had diabetes and depression. The other participants had neither condition.
Among those who developed depression over the six-year study period – which was around 2.4 per cent – over 26 per cent had depression, 11 per cent had type 2 and seven per cent had both conditions.
The researchers observed that people with type 2 diabetes had a 20 per cent increased risk of dementia compared to those without diabetes or depression. This risk was increased to 80 per cent for people with depression.
Preventing dementia
Study investigator Dr. Dimitry Davydown, UWSM, reported that while factors such as aging and genetic risk factors cannot stop dementia developing, “diabetes and depression are things that we can do something about.”
“Individuals with diabetes and/or depression are most certainly not powerless to avoid dementia in later life,” Davydow said. “I think it is important to point out that arguably the best treatment available for dementia is to prevent it from developing since we don’t have any treatments currently that either greatly improve quality of life for patients with dementia or reverse the course of the disease,” he said.
Davydow hypothesised that diabetes may affect blood supply to the brain, which could contribute to the onset of dementia. His team now want to investigate why diabetes increases the risk of dementia, especially when combined with depression.
The results of this study were published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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