Is diabetes shrinking my brain?
April 29th, 2014
08:51 AM ET

Is diabetes shrinking my brain?

It's not a secret that some diabetics also have memory issues, but a new study suggests it's not just due to clogging of blood vessels - your brain may actually be shrinking.

When the brain shrinks, it's often because valuable brain cells that help us think and remember are dying. A loss of brain cells is a hallmark for Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

In this new study, published in the journal Radiology, researchers looked at brain scans from a little more than 600 people age 55 and older with type 2 diabetes.  They found that patients who lived with diabetes the longest had smaller brain volumes.

"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.

"Diabetes may be a risk factor for things like Alzheimer's disease," says Bryan, chair and professor emeritus at the Department of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania. " We didn't prove that, but we suggest that."

Up until about five years ago, experts thought memory and cognitive problems related to diabetes were largely due to problems with blood clots in the brain. But Bryan's new imaging study builds on other research, which points to brain shrinkage as a potentially stronger link to the development of cognitive decline in diabetics.

"Somehow diabetes is doing something to the brain that results in tissue loss (death of cells)," says Dr. Rosebud Roberts, professor of epidemiology and neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who was not involved with this new research.

Roberts says scientists are still trying to understand why cells are dying. Their best guess is that it's related to both too little and too much glucose in the brain.  Glucose is the brain's food and when you have diabetes, brain cells may not be getting enough nutrients, so they can die. Another possibility is that too much glucose in the brain can also kill cells.

The brain of a diabetic "metabolizes glucose and oxygen differently than people who don't have diabetes," says Bryan, because destructive free radicals are possibly produced.

"Diabetes can lead to what is in essence a faster aging process," says Dr. Gail Musen, investigator at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, who was also not involved in this new research.

Her advice to diabetics is to keep the condition under control: "Exercise, eat right, go to your doctor, lose weight if you need to and take your medicine." These lifestyle changes won't prevent the brain shrinkage, Musen says, but they will slow down the process - and the sooner you start, the better.

« Previous entry
soundoff (843 Responses)
  1. RV Restoration California


    June 12, 2021 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Grant Melendy

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life websites and blogs


    June 12, 2021 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Hayden Ranno

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl websites and blogs


    June 12, 2021 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. boats for sale near me


    June 12, 2021 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. laundry near me

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been conducting a little research on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this matter here on your site.


    June 12, 2021 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Barney Pokorski

    I don't know about you people but I am obsessed with airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2011/02/win-a-trip-to-new-zealand-with-air-new-zealand/


    June 13, 2021 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. therapists near me


    June 13, 2021 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. music stores near me


    June 13, 2021 at 03:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. liquor stores near me


    June 13, 2021 at 03:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. aldi near me

    Hello! I just wish to give you a big thumbs up for your great info you have got here on this post. I'll be coming back to your site for more soon.


    June 13, 2021 at 03:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. att near me


    June 13, 2021 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Emery Faur

    I don't know about you people but I am obsessed with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/02/taking-a-scenic-flight-on-a-seaplane-with-kenmore-air/


    June 13, 2021 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. canes near me

    I'd like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this website. I'm hoping to see the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own site now 😉


    June 13, 2021 at 06:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. gun dealers near me


    June 13, 2021 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. weather near me

    This excellent website truly has all of the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 13, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. rv sales near me

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality sites on the internet. I am going to highly recommend this blog!


    June 13, 2021 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. auto repair near me


    June 13, 2021 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. marijuana dispensary near me


    June 13, 2021 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Stacey Popple

    I don't know about you guys but I infatuated with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/07/fan-photo-lufthansa-a340-with-a-few-boeing-727s/


    June 13, 2021 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. atm near me

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am going through issues with your RSS. I donít understand why I can't join it. Is there anybody else getting similar RSS issues? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 13, 2021 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. walk in clinic near me

    Your style is very unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.


    June 13, 2021 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. bank of america atm near me

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the greatest sites on the net. I'm going to recommend this blog!


    June 13, 2021 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. coffee near me

    Good day! I just wish to offer you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you have right here on this post. I am returning to your site for more soon.


    June 13, 2021 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. thai near me

    I quite like reading an article that can make men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!


    June 14, 2021 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. fast food near me


    June 14, 2021 at 01:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. computer stores near me


    June 14, 2021 at 02:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. jobs near me part time


    June 14, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. dollar tree near me


    June 14, 2021 at 03:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. camping near me


    June 14, 2021 at 04:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. rapid covid test near me


    June 14, 2021 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. wingstop near me


    June 14, 2021 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. barbecue near me


    June 14, 2021 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. walmart pharmacy near me


    June 14, 2021 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. car inspection near me

    Very good information. Lucky me I came across your site by chance (stumbleupon). I've saved it for later!


    June 14, 2021 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Antony Schulweis

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these sl articles and blogs


    June 14, 2021 at 19:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    I was pretty pleased to uncover this page. I want to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it and i also have you book marked to see new stuff on your web site.


    June 14, 2021 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair Santa Ana

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not disappoint me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, however I really thought you'd have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.


    June 14, 2021 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Repair Shop Near Me


    June 15, 2021 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Repair Near Me Now

    I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!


    June 15, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair Nearby

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I believe that you need to write more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people don't discuss these subjects. To the next! Cheers!!


    June 15, 2021 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    That is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 15, 2021 at 02:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RV Repair Garden Grove

    I really love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím wanting to create my own personal blog and want to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Kudos!


    June 15, 2021 at 03:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Camper Repair Near Me


    June 15, 2021 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repairs Near My Location

    I needed to thank you for this fantastic read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you book-marked to check out new stuff you postÖ


    June 15, 2021 at 18:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Repair Orange County

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. There's no doubt that that you need to publish more on this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but usually people do not discuss such subjects. To the next! Kind regards!!


    June 15, 2021 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Camper Repair Shop Near Me


    June 15, 2021 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repair Orange County California


    June 15, 2021 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa


    June 15, 2021 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repair Shop


    June 16, 2021 at 04:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Nearby RV Repair

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing!


    June 16, 2021 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

« Previous entry
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.