Diabetes starts to shrink the brain in middle-age and causes accelerated mental decline in retirement, research suggests.
Scientists found elderly people with type 2 diabetes experienced a significant decline in memory and verbal fluency over a five-year period.
Alarmingly, they found the participants – who were aged 68 on average at the beginning of the study – were already showing signs of damage to their brains which they believe had started many years before.
There are currently 3.7million people living in Britain who are living with a form of diabetes
The findings have major implications for the 3.7million people in Britain who have diabetes. Diabetes is the country’s fastest growing health crisis, with the number of sufferers having doubled in just 20 years.
The problem is largely being driven by obesity, with 90 per cent of people with the condition suffering from the type 2 form, which is linked to lifestyle and diet. Diabetes is by itself already a huge health problem, putting the kidneys, heart, eyes and nerves at risk.
But the study, detailed in Diabetologia medical journal, led by the University of Tasmania, suggests the condition also has a major impact on the brain and could lead to dementia.