Diabetes can double your risk of dementia

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Media Release

12 July 2016

Diabetes can double your risk of dementia

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition that affects around 1.7 million Australians1 and can significantly increase your risk of dementia by up to double2.

This week is National Diabetes Week 2016, which aims to educate the public and support people living with diabetes.

Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO Carol Bennett says, “it is an important time to highlight the undeniable links between diabetes and dementia. The risk of developing dementia in the general population is around 10%, for people with diabetes this risk significantly increases to around 20%3.”

According to population studies, the reason for this increased risk of dementia among people with diabetes is not completely understood and is likely to involve a number of factors including:

  • High blood glucose levels can damage the cells of the body, including blood vessels in the brain
  • High levels of insulin in the blood can cause damage to blood vessels and cells in the brain
  • Diabetes may contribute to the build-up of proteins in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease

“These statistics reinforce just how important it is to ensure Australians are aware of the risks associated with diabetes and dementia, particularly type 2 diabetes, and that there are things that can be done to reduce the risk of developing both dementia and type 2 diabetes,” Ms Bennett said.

Some risk reduction steps people are often not aware of include:

  • Regularly check your blood sugar levels and follow treatment advice if diabetes or other problems are found.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight – regular physical activity can help reduce your risk of developing both diabetes and dementia.
  • Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet of foods that are low in saturated fat, and avoid eating too many fatty, salty and sugary foods.
  • Reduce the amount of alcohol that you consume, and avoid smoking.
  • Along with physical activity, ensure you remain mentally and socially active and engaged to help reduce the risk of developing dementia.
  • Treat high cholesterol or high blood pressure effectively.
  • There can also be some genetic factors that might influence the risk of developing diabetes, so if you feel that you may be at risk please see your doctor and be aware of any medical history that may be a factor.

“It is important to recognise the links between diabetes and dementia. We know that not all cases of dementia can be prevented through risk reduction, but reducing those that we can will be enormously beneficial,” Ms Bennett concluded.

For more information on preventive measures, visit Your Brain Matters and the Diabetes Australia website.

1 Diabetes in Australia
2 Glucose tolerance status and risk of dementia in the community: The Hisayama Study, Neurology 2011;77;1126
3 Glucose tolerance status and risk of dementia in the community: The Hisayama Study, Neurology 2011;77;1126


Media enquiries:
Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | bianca.armytage@dementia.org.au

Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 353,800 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
An interpreter service is available
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area

Media resources and additional information: