Diabetes and Your Brain Health

News Briefs by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

No good evidence for “early Alzheimer’s test”

There has been a lot of reporting about a possible early test for Alzheimer’s disease developed at the University of Texas Medical School. The researchers believe it is close to 90% effective. But, only those who already showed symptoms were tested, so it is not known if it will be possible to give patients an early warning. Also, the method used for testing, called a “lumbar puncture,” is a difficult test with some possible side effects, so it is not likely to be best for most people. The researchers hope to develop an easy blood test for use in the future, but right now it is not known if this is possible.

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causes of diabetesNew protein may be useful in future dementia treatments

A recent study, published by Harvard researchers and reported in The New York Times, show the important role that a protein called REST plays in protecting the brain from Alzheimer’s and other age-related brain diseases. Scientists found that this protein, thought important in protecting the brain from the stresses of aging, is found in much smaller amounts than average in the brains of those who suffered from including Alzheimer’s. This is one of the first studies to fully explore this, but with further research, scientists believed this knowledge of REST can be useful in the development of new treatments for these conditions.

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Mid-life onset of diabetes and high blood pressure may be linked to brain damage

A recent study published in Neurology suggests that there may be a direct link between the onset of diabetes or hypertension in middle age, and brain problems later in life. The subjects were around 80 years old on average, and either had mild or no memory problems. During the study, the subjects who had developed diabetes in middle age were twice as likely to suffer thinking and memory problems. Those with high blood pressure from middle age were twice as likely to suffer brain damage. The study author suggests that this information might be used to prevent or delay these problems in the future.

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