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Type 2 Diabetes May Deteriorate Mental Health: Study

Update Date: Jun 21, 2012 07:48 PM EDT

Type 2 diabetes can extend to the brain, causing decline in memory, attention and other cognitive skills, reveals a latest study.

The study, which analyzed the data of elderly men and women with diabetes (predominantly Type 2) for 10 years, revealed that there was a considerable fall in their cognitive skills when compared to others of the same age. Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity and inactivity. The more adversely the disease is managed, the faster the mental deterioration is caused in patients.

Also, mental deterioration was seen not just in patients with advanced stages of the disease. People who did not have the disease at the start of the study but contracted it later were also seen undergoing mental deterioration to a great extent.

"What we've shown is a clear association with diabetes and cognitive aging in terms of the slope and the rate of decline on these cognitive tests," said Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of California, San Francisco according to New York Times. "That's very powerful."

However, correlation does not necessarily implicate causation, and to establish a relation between diabetes and brain health, further study is required, say the researchers.

There have been studies earlier which have correlated Type 2 diabetes and higher chances of contracting Alzheimer's disease and dementia later in life. But then how exactly one disease leads to another is yet to be understood.

Although some scientists believe inflammation and vascular damage caused by chronically high blood sugar levels over many years to be the cause, various findings have provided inconsistent results.

Dr. Yaffe and her colleagues analysed extensive data from the Health, Aging and Body Composition project, or Health ABC, a long-running study of white and black older adults living in Pittsburgh and Tennessee.

Data of more than 3000 people, most of whom were in their 70s, was studied. In the beginning of the study, 23 percent of the participants had diabetes, while 5 percent of them did not have the disease but contracted it later.

Although the researchers did not distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, most of them had Type 2 diabetes.

During the study, participants were tested repeatedly for cognitive abilities and areas like their memory, coordination, dexterity and ability to concentrate, as well as their overall mental health was observed.

At the beginning of the study, people who had diabetes scored slightly lesser than others who did not. However, after a span of nine years, the scores of participants with diabetes fell down considerably.

 Also, the researchers found that people who did not have diabetes at the beginning of the study but contracted it later had scores falling between other two groups.

The study was published in Archives of Neurology.

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