Japanese scientists have discovered strong evidence of a link between diabetes and forms of dementia, including mind-robbing Alzheimer’s disease.

The scientists, as detailed in a study published in the journal Neurology, tracked more than 1,000 Japanese adults ages 60 and older for 15 years. According to U.S. News & World Report, the researchers found that 27 percent of those with diabetes developed dementia, compared with 20 percent of those with normal blood sugar levels.

Although researchers don’t fully understand the connection, one theory focuses on the established link between diabetes and vascular disease, a form of heart disease that can harden arteries and veins. Those blood vessels, in turn, sometimes supply too little oxygen to the brain, causing dementia.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, past studies have produced conflicting answers on whether there is a tie between diabetes and dementia, including Alzheimer’s. To try to settle the question, researchers at Kyushu University in Japan tracked more than 1,000 adults who agreed to take a glucose tolerance test to determine if they were diabetic or pre-diabetic. In all, 232 of the people in the study developed dementia over the 15-year tracking period.

If the new findings are backed up by further research, it would add yet another to the long list of complications — including blindness, heart disease, erectile dysfunction and kidney failure — associated with diabetes. Nearly 11 percent of American adults suffer from diabetes, a disorder preventing the body from using insulin properly, causing a dangerous buildup of blood sugar.

The disease, often associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, has increased globally in recent decades.


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