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The Takeaway: Study Shows Direct Link Between Alzheimer's and Diabetes


A growing body of research suggests a strong link between type 2 diabetes and the development of Alzheimer's disease. Now a team of scientists from New Jersey and Northwestern Universities think they've figured out why.

One of the most significant brain changes in people with Alzheimer's is an overabundance of something called the amyloid beta peptide, or abeta. The researchers found that patients with type 2 diabetes also showed abnormally high levels of abeta in their brains.

The results were striking," said researcher Peter Frederikse. "Because we used diabetes as an instigator of the disease, our study shows - for the first time directly - the link between Alzheimer's and diabetes."

Earlier this year, a large study out of Japan found that people with type 2 diabetes were about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and those with pre-diabetes had a 35 percent higher risk. But this new study is the first to show more than a correlational link and actually find similar brain processes going on in the brains of both Alzheimer's and diabetes patients.

The researchers also found significant build-up of abeta in subjects' retinas. Because the retina is much more accessible than the brain for diagnostic tests, this finding could mean a new way for doctors to test for Alzheimer's disease.

Friday Quick Hits: 

  • Study finds elder abuse underreported among Latinos. In the last year, 40 percent of the Spanish-speaking seniors surveyed had been abused or neglected, yet only 2 percent reported the abuse. "This indicates that family solidarity within the Latino community does not necessarily protect older Latinos against elder abuse," said study leader and gerontologist Marguerite DeLiema.
  • Catholic priests delaying retirement, too. At 92, Monsignor Gerald Ryan is the oldest working priest in New York City; he's been presiding over St. Luke's parish in the Bronx since 1966. With fewer young men entering seminaries, more priests are working past 75, the formal retirement age under canon law.
  • Florida retirees pucker up for the president. Before giving a speech in Florida Thursday, President Barack Obama was bombarded by the lips of the ladies of Century Village retirement community. "That's the most kisses I've gotten at any campaign event," he said. "I like that!"
  • Medicare patients more satisfied. A new study from The Commonwealth Fund found Medicare beneficiaries were happier with their health insurance, had better access to care and were less likely to have trouble paying medical bills than adults with individual or employer-based insurance coverage.
  • Victim of age discrimination to get $193K. A federal judge Thursday ruled in favor of Debra Moreno, who was fired from her position at a home health care company in 2008 after the owner referred to the then-54-year-old as a "bag of bones."
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