Two of the most common and dreaded illnesses in America may share a connection, with new research suggesting that having insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes raises your risk of developing the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease.
After adjusting for other risk factors, the Japanese study found that people with the highest levels of fasting insulin had nearly six times the odds of having plaque deposits between nerves in the brain, compared to people with the lowest levels of fasting insulin.
Those with the highest scores on a measure of insulin resistance (where cells become less able to use insulin effectively) had about five times the odds of having brain plaques vs. those with the lowest scores on the insulin-resistance test, the study found.
In fact, "the risk of plaque-type Alzheimer's disease pathology increases in a linear relationship with diabetes-related factors," according to one study author, Dr. Kensuke Sasaki, an assistant professor in the department of neuropathology at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan.
Results of the study appear in the Aug. 25 online issue of Neurology.
Both type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease have been rapidly increasing in incidence, so much so that experts worry the illnesses may overwhelm the health-care system in the coming years if nothing is done.