Study: Type-2 Diabetes Increases Dementia Risk

Women are more vulnerable than men

People with type-2 diabetes are at increased risk for dementia in general, and for one form of the disease (vascular dementia), diabetes brings more risk to women than men, according to a new review published online in Diabetes Care.

Lead author Dr. Rachel R. Huxley and her colleagues at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, identified studies published before November 2014 that had reported on the prospective association between diabetes and dementia. Data from 14 studies, 2,310,330 individuals, and 102,174 dementia case patients were included.

In multiple-adjusted analyses, diabetes was associated with a 60% increased risk of any dementia in both sexes (women, pooled relative risk [RR] = 1.62; men, pooled RR = 1.58). The diabetes-associated RRs for vascular dementia were 2.34 in women and 1.73 in men, and for nonvascular dementia the RRs were 1.53 in women and 1.49 in men. Overall, women with diabetes had a 19% greater risk for the development of vascular dementia than men (P < 0.001).

“These findings add to the evidence that diabetes confers a greater vascular hazard in women compared with men,” Huxley told Reuters Health. “Diabetes confers a greater risk of developing heart disease, stroke and now vascular dementia in women compared with men.”

Women tend to be undertreated for vascular risks relative to men, she noted.

“We can't definitively say whether the relationship is causal or not because the studies were all observational (rather than randomized trials) and therefore there always remains the possibility that the relationship is confounded,” Huxley said.

A third factor, such as obesity, could have been part of the relationship between diabetes and dementia, she said.

Keeping fit, maintaining a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and giving your brain as well as your body regular workouts can help decrease the risk of dementia for people with diabetes, Huxley said.

Sources: Reuters; December 28, 2015; and Diabetes Care; December 17, 2015.