Is Alzheimer’s Really Type 3 Diabetes?

September 25, 2017

Glasses on Alzheimer's Disease paper

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, but scientists are making headway on a number of theories about its cause, one being a link to diabetes.

Though scientists have presented many theories about Alzheimer’s disease, the true cause of the condition remains elusive. One by one, theories have failed to earn a consensus. But a promising new hypothesis has emerged in recent years: a link to diabetes. It’s one that seems to be supported by a growing amount of clinical evidence.

A New Theory About Alzheimer’s and Type 3 Diabetes

This new and promising theory suggests there is a connection between a third type of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Though the link to diabetes remains a bit tenuous, experimental evidence does seem to connect Type 2 Diabetes to the progressive cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

We hope to give you a better idea of what this connection might be and to remind the families affected by Alzheimer’s that scientists are inching ever closer to understanding this terrible disease. Even if this theory doesn’t prove to be definitive, it still suggests progress.

Understanding the Potential Link between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

The role insulin plays in the body is the key to understanding the relationship between Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Produced in the pancreas, insulin signals the cells in your body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream.

In a non-diabetic person, proper amounts of glucose are absorbed into the cells. But both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes interfere with this absorption of glucose, resulting in a variety of uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms.

Type 1 Diabetes is congenital and destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas, while Type 2 is acquired and prevents cells from absorbing glucose out of the bloodstream. This inability to absorb glucose is called “insulin resistance.” It is this insulin resistance that may be the possible link to diabetes for Alzheimer’s disease.

Once someone develops insulin resistance, the glucose left in the bloodstream wreaks havoc on bodily tissues. And it can lead to the symptoms associated with diabetes in general.

The Alzheimer’s connection is established if insulin resistance begins to affect brain cells. Once this starts to happen, people can begin to lose memory and elements of their personality. In other words, the person begins to display symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Understanding Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer’s Disease

Insulin resistance can lead to the creation of the beta amyloid plaques that are believed to play a large role in the development of Alzheimer’s.  As you can see, there is reason to suspect a connection between the insulin resistance caused by Type 2 Diabetes and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, there is enough evidence to suggest insulin resistance reduces cognitive function that some doctors and scientists have taken to calling Alzheimer’s “Type 3 Diabetes.”  Although explanatory gaps do exist in the relationship between insulin resistance and the beta amyloid plaques that are involved in Alzheimer’s, research still indicates at least a vague connection between Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

More research is needed to establish a solid connection between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s. But the very possibility that the connection exists suggests that by reducing the occurrence of Type 2 Diabetes, we might very well reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s as well.

Two Things We Know Amidst All this Uncertainty

No matter what medical science eventually decides about the status and causes of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, we already know two important things with absolute certainty.

First, if you have an older loved who is experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, they need and deserve the finest care possible.

Second, you and your family deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your loved one is in compassionate and knowledgeable hands.

Call us today for information or to schedule a visit or tour of a Legacy Senior Living Memory Care program. This is the best way to see the expert and compassionate care we provide to our residents on a daily basis.