There are many reasons to keep your blood sugar under control: Protecting your arteries and nerves are two of them. Here's another biggie: Preventing dementia, the loss of memory and thinking skills that afflicts millions of older Americans.
A study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that even in people without diabetes, above normal blood sugar is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. This finding goes beyond previously seen links between diabetes and dementia. "It establishes for the first time, convincingly, that there is a link between dementia and elevated blood sugars in the non-diabetic range," says study author Dr. David Nathan, a Harvard Medical School professor and the director of the Diabetes Center and Clinical Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Nathan teamed up with researchers across the country to look at blood sugar levels in more than 2,000 older adults - the average age was 76 - taking part in the Adult Changes in Thought study. The vast majority of the study participants did not have diabetes. What the researchers found is that any incremental increase in blood sugar was associated with an increased risk of dementia - the higher the blood sugar, the higher the risk.