Diabetes is considered to be a kind of accelerated aging – by increasing a person’s susceptibility to degenerative conditions, including kidney disease, retinopathy, hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis. Recently, evidence has accumulated to suggest that diabetes also plays a role in accelerated brain aging. But while it is known that diabetes may be associated with an increased risk of dementia, the exact mechanisms and mitigating factors remain unclear.
Dementia affects 15% of people over 65 years old, and up to 50% of those over 85. Its incidence is set to increase more than 100% by 2050. If diabetes increases the risk of dementia even mildly, the public health implications are enormous. Rachel Whitmer describes the connections between diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer’s-related neurodegeneration, and offers some timely preventive options.