Is Sugar Linked to Alzheimer's?

Feb 08 2018 Read 1650 Times

From obesity to diabetes, it's no secret that a high sugar diet can cause big problems for the human body. Now, researchers have stoked the fire with new evidence suggesting that there could be a link between sugar and Alzheimer's disease.

The new study was published in the journal Diabetologia and fronted by researchers from both the UK and China. It drew on data from over 5000 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) participants and indicated that over the course of a decade, participants with high blood sugar levels suffered from a higher rate of cognitive decline.

“Our study provides evidence to support the association of diabetes with subsequent cognitive decline,” assert the researchers.

The link between HbA1c and cognitive decline

While all participants showed some level of cognitive decline over the 10-year ELSA assessment, it was more pronounced for those with higher HbA1c levels. The term refers to glycated haemoglobin, a common measure of overall blood sugar control that's used to determine if someone has diabetes.

According to the team, the findings "show a linear correlation between circulating HbA1c levels and cognitive decline, regardless of diabetic status."

Is Alzheimer’s a form of "Type 3" diabetes?

As well as being one of the largest studies to link HbA1c levels with cognitive decline, the research also builds on theories that Alzheimer’s disease could be a form of "Type 3" diabetes. In the past other studies have suggested that there could be a "tipping point" which sees a molecular link between blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease reach critical levels.

In the UK alone Alzheimer's disease affects an estimated 850,000 people. It's the most common type of dementia and causes memory loss, confusion, changes in mood and other side-effects. While the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown, studies like this continue to build on the knowledge pool and work towards both prevention and cure.

Early intervention

While future studies are still required to pinpoint the long-term benefits of maintaining optimal glucose levels, the team maintain that "interventions that delay diabetes onset, as well as management strategies for blood sugar control, might help alleviate the progression of subsequent cognitive decline over the long-term."

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