Alzheimer’s Disease: Type 3 Diabetes?

by Sandy Todd Webster on Nov 01, 2012

Food for Thought

There is a growing and compelling body of evidence that Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes are linked by a common factor: insulin resistance. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh proved it for the first time.

If further study continues to support this finding, the implications for the growing ranks of overweight individuals at risk for type 2 are staggering. They, and their families, may well be facing the pain and expense associated with Alzheimer’s as well. According to a press release from Penn Medicine, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases by 50% for people with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is due to insulin resistance and accounts for 90% of all diabetes cases, says the same source.

Insulin is a hormone important to many bodily functions, including the health of brain cells. The University of Pittsburgh team identified extensive abnormalities in the activity of two major signaling pathways for insulin and insulin-like growth factor in nondiabetic people with Alzheimer’s disease. These pathways could be targeted with new or existing medicines to potentially resensitize the brain to insulin and possibly slow down or even improve cognitive decline.

The study, now online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (122 [4], 1316–38), is the first to demonstrate directly that insulin resistance occurs in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL, the health and fitness industry's leading resource for fitness and wellness professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering appro