Now, a new study published in the journal Radiology suggests that it may actually cause brain shrinkage and the loss of valuable brain cells.
Researchers looked at brain scans from over 600 people age 55 and older with type 2 diabetes. They found that the longer a patient had the disease, the more brain volume loss occurred, particularly in the gray matter. Gray matter includes areas of the brain involved in muscle control, seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making and self-control.
“When you lose brain cells, you lose the capacity for more complex thoughts and memory,” says Dr. R. Nick Bryan, lead author of the study, as well as chair and professor emeritus at the Department of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania.
A loss of brain cells is how diseases like Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are defined.
“Diabetes may be a risk factor for things like Alzheimer’s disease,” says Bryan. ” We didn’t prove that, but we suggest that.”
Doctors also suggest that this study may help prove that high levels of insulin and sugar may be toxic to the brain.