I've written before about how some researchers are recommending that we begin referring to Alzheimer's disease as type-3 diabetes because of the role blood sugar plays in cognitive health and decline. So it shouldn't surprise you to hear that having type-2 diabetes can increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. However, a new study indicates that this risk may be different for men and women.
Researchers believe that in general, the increased risk is likely due in part to a decrease in the effectiveness of insulin, as this is a key issue in both diabetes and dementia. However, scientists at the University of Coimbra in Portugal suspected that the sex hormones may play a role as well, particularly as women are known to be at greater risk of developing Alzheimer's. To investigate this, they examined changes in estrogen, insulin, oxidative stress, and markers of Alzheimer's in male and female middle-aged rats, some of which had type-2 diabetes and some of which served as controls.
They found a number of differences between the male and female rats as well as those with and without type-2 diabetes. This indicates that treatment approaches should be different for each group. In particular, the female rats had more cholesterol in their blood and less in their brains. Brain function is entirely dependent on having enough cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol in the brain cells.
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Additionally, low cholesterol levels in the brain can affect the ability of the cells to respond to the female hormone estradiol. Having enough estradiol also is important for brain function. Studies have shown that women who restore their post-menopausal hormone levels to those typical of premenopausal women are 60% less likely to get Alzheimer's.
This study offers an important reminder that because changes in estrogen levels play a significant role in brain health, women, especially post-menopausal women, may need to be more vigilant than men about reducing their risk factors for developing dementia. One such risk factor is having low hormone levels. Another one is elevated blood sugar levels that can contribute to both type-2 and "type-3" diabetes.
Both men and women can decrease their risk of these diseases by combining hormone restoration therapy with all of the various strategies I mention in my book, The Type-2 Diabetes Breakthrough. It's a step by step guide to preventing, treating, and in many cases completely resolving type-2 diabetes.
And one particularly helpful supplement for patients with type-2 diabetes is Advanced Blood Sugar Formula. It contains powerful herbal extracts that can keep your blood sugar at a healthy level so that you maintain normal insulin sensitivity.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD