Brain power at risk with type 2 diabetes

Monday 20 July 2015
Professor Kaarin Anstey. Photo: Stuart Hay, ANU

People with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of poorer cognition than adults without diabetes, a study led by The Australian National University has found.

The study is one of the largest to date and followed 4,547 people with ages ranging from 25 to 60 over a 12 year period.

"The results show memory problems and poor cognition occurs at younger ages than previously thought," said leader of the research Professor Kaarin Anstey, Director of the Centre for Ageing, Health and Wellbeing at ANU.

Around 1.7 million people in Australia have diabetes, and it is the fastest growing chronic condition in the country.

However, many Australians are unaware of potential medical complications that can arise from the disease if not managed appropriately, including blindness, kidney damage and even limb amputations, said Diabetes Australia.

Now the ANU study, which measured memory and processing speed, has added cognition to the list of risks.

"Our new data reiterates a need for further research in this area of population and preventative health to fully understand how varying levels and trajectories of glucose influence cognitive decline in adulthood," said Professor Anstey.

The team analysed the medical records of Australians participating in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) study. The study is published in Alzheimer's Research and Therapy.

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