There may be a connection between dementia and diabetes. According to ABC News, a new study from Tufts University found that women with high levels of a hormone found in body fat were at an increased risk of developing dementia.
In researching the connection between brain degeneration and the hormone known as adiponectin, researchers studied frozen blood samples from 840 men and women who had been monitored for the past 13 years. Of those, 159 developed dementia. Their blood samples contained high levels of adiponectin.
The findings surprised researchers, as adiponectin is used to help insulin deliver glucose to neurons in the brain.
“Adiponectin is supposed to be beneficial. It’s supposed to decrease your risk of diabetes, supposed to decrease the risk of heart disease,” said study author Ernst Schaefer. “But in this particular study, to our surprise, it increased the risk of dementia.”
Although the connection was manifested in both sexes, it was particularly strong in women.
Scientists say the study results add further evidence to the connection between diabetes and dementia, which has already been linked in several previous studies. Some experts believe dementia is triggered by the way brain cells respond to insulin, while others have suggested that obesity itself—often connected with diabetes—may be the true risk factor.
Most of the people in the Tufts study were not obese, however, ABC noted. Dr. Roger Brumback of the Creighton University School of Medicine told the news network that the study illustrates the need for far more research in the complicated connection between metabolism and cognitive function.
“This study just reinforces our need for much more research on the relationship of insulin signaling to brain function and then its relationship to dementing illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease,” Brumback said.