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Medicine

Study Ties High Blood Sugar To Dementia 157

A study published last week in the New England Journal suggests that blood sugar levels may be a more important indicator than previously realized for non-diabetics: high blood sugar levels were linked by the study's authors with increased risk of dementia (summary free; full article paywalled). The study followed more than 2,000 elderly participants, and found a positive correlation between blood glucose levels and development of dementia, both for patients with and without diabetes.
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Study Ties High Blood Sugar To Dementia

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 11, 2013 @10:40AM (#44535609)
    More ammo in the Bloomberg ammo depot to outlaw enormous sugary drinks and help lower the nation's health care costs by cutting down on seriously obese people. Seriously, nobody needs to drink a quart of highly sweetened liquid (unless you're a 50 pound hummingbird).
    • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @10:59AM (#44535703)
      I don't know about that. People stupid enough to drink a 52 oz, 1000+ calorie drink packed with sugar might not have the best brain to begin with and probably have all around terrible health practices as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tlambert ( 566799 )

        I don't know about that. People stupid enough to drink a 52 oz, 1000+ calorie drink packed with sugar might not have the best brain to begin with and probably have all around terrible health practices as well.

        The study was about Glucose; the predominant sugar in soda drinks is Fructose, at least in the U.S., and because it lends itself to plumbing-based manufacturing of junk food rather than requiring auger gears to move powdered sweetener around, it's gaining ground in other countries junk food as well.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          1) High Fructose Corn Syrup, the thing used in just about everything is a mixture of about 55/42% fructose and glucose respectively.

          2) Fructose is almost immediately metabolized by the liver into glucose, once it leaves the small intestine.

          So, it's basically the same damn thing to the body anyway.

          • by smaddox ( 928261 ) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:48PM (#44536275)

            Fructose (which is one half of sucrose - basically the same as high fructose corn syrup) is actually much worse than glucose precisely because it is metabolized by the liver. The metabolic process is very similar to that of ethanol, and the chronic effects are also almost identical. Here's a great presentation by Prof. Robert H. Lustig, MD about the link between sugar consumption and obesity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM [youtube.com]

          • Plus it isn't just in soft drinks. It's in just about every processed food out there. Why? It's dirt cheap compared to real sugar. So, if you eat peanut butter, you are eating HFCS. If you eat a hamburger at a fast food chain, you are eating HFCS if you think you will go the healthy route and have a salad, you better just have oil and vinegar for the dressing or once again you will have HFCS added to your diet. A little HFCS isn't bad for you, but like MSG, it is so prevalent in all of the foods we eat tha

            • by haruchai ( 17472 )

              The only reason HCFS is so cheap is because of corn subsidies. Get rid of those and it's half the battle.

              • The only reason HCFS is so cheap is because of corn subsidies. Get rid of those and it's half the battle.

                That's not true. US places tariffs on imported sugar to protect domestic sugar production. Because of this, actual sugar is overpriced in the US. HFCS is priced on the commodities market, like oil, so while the corn producers do receive a subsidy, the price is really determined by other factors. But, if the US removed the self imposed tariffs, then the price of sucrose would fall to normal like the rest of the world and the demand in the US for HFCS would decline.

                Basically, we aren't subsidizing HFCS, we a

                • by haruchai ( 17472 )

                  Are you sure? From what I've found so far, the tariff on Brazil sugar is 1.5 cents (US$) per kg but they are limited to 155,000 tons. That doesn't seem like enough of a hike to make using sugar unaffordable.

                  • That is the cane sugar tariff. The beet sugar tariff is something like 29.4 cents per kg. We restrict the amount of cane sugar that can be imported and then tax the shit out of beet sugar which competes directly with most US sugar production.

        • by mpe ( 36238 )
          The study was about Glucose; the predominant sugar in soda drinks is Fructose, at least in the U.S., and because it lends itself to plumbing-based manufacturing of junk food rather than requiring auger gears to move powdered sweetener around, it's gaining ground in other countries junk food as well.

          HFCS is typically 55% fructose and 45% glucose. (Outside of the US it would probably be made from wheat or potatoes rather than maize.) HFCS wouldn't exist without the maize subsidies and sugar tariffs in the U
    • I've seen people that drink soda during meals.
      The problem is social.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      if they did a scientific study of banning "large sugar drinks" and noticed that somehow the cost and expense to society and freedom of having taxpayer funded policing of drink sizes somehow was worth it, then maybe i would agree. but thats not what they studied.

      they studied the effect of blood glucose on dementia.

      sugar might be a poison, but so are a lot of other things. regulating it might be fine, but stupid regulations like "drink size" are not necessarily going to accomplish anything other than wasting

      • by mpe ( 36238 )
        if they did a scientific study of banning "large sugar drinks" and noticed that somehow the cost and expense to society and freedom of having taxpayer funded policing of drink sizes somehow was worth it, then maybe i would agree. but thats not what they studied.

        The size of the cup/glass is also utterly meaningless if you can have as many "refills" as you like (especially if that is via a dispenser in the customer area.)
    • by rossdee ( 243626 )

      They should outlaw cans.

      Bottles can be resealed and replaced in the fridge, you only need to drink what you want at the time.
      This applies to 1.5 and 2 liter bottles as well as 500 ml

      Are 2l bottle really illegal in NYC or did some higher court strike that law down?

      2L botles is the cheapest way to buy soda/pop

      Actually I drink 50% pop (SunDrop, MT Dew or mello yello) and the other 50% is Lemon-lime Gatorade)

      • I drink about a can of soda a week. Usually Stevia sweetened cola or root beer. Why would I want a 2L bottle? It would either encourage me to drink more soda (before it goes flat) or go to waste.

        A better solution would just be a sugary drink tax and that tax could go directly towards subsidizing fruits and vegetables :)

        • I drink about a can of soda a week. Usually Stevia sweetened cola or root beer. Why would I want a 2L bottle? It would either encourage me to drink more soda (before it goes flat) or go to waste.

          A better solution would just be a sugary drink tax and that tax could go directly towards subsidizing fruits and vegetables :)

          Because if you have kids, buying soday by the can is pretty darn expensive. The best solution is to first find out if there is a direct and strong correlation between surary drinks and obesity. Then, decide what to do about it. Chances are, a viable solution would not require a tax or a subsidy for fruits and vegetables, which are pretty high in sugar, too.

          If the culprit really is the sugary drinks, then all one would need to do is look at other western societies where kids drink sugary drinks (Japan is one

    • The "nations" healthcare costs are none of Bloombergs fucking business. I don't need him babysitting me. Soft-drink companies are losing more and more money every quarter due to people making informed decisions about their diet. We do not need the government deciding for us. We're perfectly capable of doing it on our own. Where we need the government is to enforce transparency so capitalism can do the work for us. Clear, standardized nutrition labels is what the government should be focused on. Once we have

    • by mpe ( 36238 )
      More ammo in the Bloomberg ammo depot to outlaw enormous sugary drinks and help lower the nation's health care costs by cutting down on seriously obese people.

      The majority of most people's dietary glucose isn't from "sugar" however. This typically comes from plant amylopectin (followed by amylose).
      Thus it would actually make more sense to outlaw bread, pasta, potatoes, breakfast cereal, etc. before even considering anything which contains glucose, maltose, sucrose or lactose.
      • More ammo in the Bloomberg ammo depot to outlaw enormous sugary drinks and help lower the nation's health care costs by cutting down on seriously obese people.

        The majority of most people's dietary glucose isn't from "sugar" however. This typically comes from plant amylopectin (followed by amylose).
        Thus it would actually make more sense to outlaw bread, pasta, potatoes, breakfast cereal, etc. before even considering anything which contains glucose, maltose, sucrose or lactose.

        Shhhhh! Don't cloud the argument with facts.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No way Jose! Stoopid believe print.

  • Sugar gets more evil every day. I've heard that sugar causes or is linked to:

    • tooth decay
    • weight problems
    • diabetes
    • acne
    • dementia

    And, I've heard that sugar is acidic, but how and what that means other than that it's somehow bad I don't know. Acidic foods cause faster aging, maybe? Wish I'd known about the link to acne back in high school.

    • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:19AM (#44535809)
      Yeah, I hear DNA is acidic too. And viruses have DNA. And many diseases are caused by DNA. Whatever you do, don't eat that stuff!
    • You may have heard that, but sugar isn't acidic. Measure the pH of water before and after adding sugar to see.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Otto Heinrich Warburg won a nobel prize in the 30's for proving that cancer cells only eat sugar. So you might want to add that to your list as well.

      • of course, most the cells in the body run on sugar. try depriving your brain of sugar for a minute and see what happens. call the morgue first and reserve a slab

    • by slew ( 2918 )

      I've heard that sugar is acidic.

      FWIW, pure sugar is not technically acidic (meaning it has no ionizable excess of H+ in solution). However, the way we metabolize sugar (citric acid cycle, fatty acid storage) creates acids in our bodies. The alkaline diet fad [wikipedia.org] that has been making the rounds has somehow created this misleading impression about sugar.

    • Re:evils of sugar (Score:5, Informative)

      by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:14PM (#44536059) Homepage Journal

      Sugar is the most basic kind of energy source. It's extremely important to your body, but as with everything, there are limits on what intake is healthy. (As Stephen Fry once said [abitoffryandlaurie.co.uk], 'Well of course too much is bad for you, that's what "too much" means you blithering twat. If you had too much water it would be bad for you, wouldn't it?')

      Don't worry about the dementia thing too much. While it's a very strong correlation, it only increases the risk of developing dementia to 120% of normal for nondiabetics and 140% of normal for diabetics, which is still only about 1-2% of the people in their study.

      As for the other consequences, it may help to understand them a bit better:

      Tooth decay is caused by sugar left on your teeth. You can consume a ton of sugar and never have any tooth issues if you brush aggressively. Cavities are caused by bacteria in your mouth breaking down food left on your teeth, which causes them to release acidic byproducts. Starches like potatoes, corn, and bread are actually much more of a problem, however, and are the primary cause of cavities.

      Gaining weight happens because the human body isn't prepared, evolutionarily, to regulate its own food intake very well. We have a high inclination toward absorbing and storing extra energy because that gives us the best chance of surviving a famine. Because sugar is the most basic kind of food, the body uses it as a clue to say "it's time to absorb nutrients!", hence sugary foods make you gain weight even faster. This is part of the normal purpose of the hormone insulin.

      Diabetes isn't only caused by high sugar intake; it can be inherited too. Technically it's an inability to recognize sugar and absorb it, which (amongst other things) causes gradual starvation if not managed properly. Sugar causes it only if you consume a great deal for a long period of time, which makes your body start to ignore insulin. Diabetes can also be caused by pancreatic damage (type 1) or temporarily by pregnancy.

      Acne is a weird issue; it's also caused by bacteria, in this case sitting on the skin. The immediate cause is a spike in testosterone, which can be induced by a number of sources, because it roughens up the surface of the skin. Sugar is one of those sources, but simply having overactive hormones as a teenager is probably a more dominant issue.

      And as Slew said, sugar isn't acidic, it's just the breakdown of it that gets to be that way. This doesn't really have much of an effect on your body unless you're already suffering from acidosis (acidic blood), and you'd die very quickly if it stopped entirely, so don't worry about it.

      • Don't worry about the dementia thing too much. While it's a very strong correlation, it only increases the risk of developing dementia to 120% of normal for nondiabetics and 140% of normal for diabetics, which is still only about 1-2% of the people in their study.

        About a quarter of the participants (524 of 2067) developed dementia over the course of the study. I'm not sure where you got the 1-2% figure. Perhaps you are referring to the p-values, but p indicates how likely it would be to observe the data if the null hypothesis were true.

        • Ah, snap. Sorry. I was using the number of measurements. (I promise I know my basic stats, even if not how to read. It's my day job.)
      • I don't agree. Sugary, at least dietary sugar, isn't needed by your body at all. Your body can convert fat to ketones which most cells can use instead of sugar. Your brain and other organs might need some sugar but your body can convert protien into sugar if it really needs to. So in conclusion:

        If you do not eat any protien, you die.
        If you don't eat any fat then you don't get any fat soluble vitamns or essential omega 3 fatty acids, and you die (its called rabbit starvation.)
        If you don't eat any sugar (and

        • Admittedly that may not have been clear in my post. My point was that you shouldn't fear the molecule, that's all. You'll always be deriving energy from glycolysis, and it'll always be a more efficient energy source.
      • by mpe ( 36238 )
        Sugar is the most basic kind of energy source. It's extremely important to your body, but as with everything, there are limits on what intake is healthy.

        On the other hand the human body has a quite limited ability to store glucose and no ability to store fructose or galactose. With none of these being "essential nutrients" either.
      • by pnagel ( 107544 )

        Sugar is the most basic kind of energy source.

        I wish I knew where this meme came from.

        Glucose is one of many energy sources that cells can use, but it is far from the only one. Fatty acids, ketones and lactic acid can be utilized for energy too.

        One thing that makes glucose special is that it can be used anaerobically, which makes it useful to fuel sudden bursts of activity that exceed the availability of oxygen. But it is much less efficient when used this way, and some of the other fuels listed above are just as efficient, if not more so, when use

        • If I do subscribe to any memes about glucose in particular, it is because I work with anaerobes most of the time and think of aerobic respiration as a kind of black magic. I have nothing but the utmost respect for our foul-breathed trillion-celled crash-dieting overlords.
      • Nice summary, thank you.

        As I understood it, the mouth bacterium eats sugar and shits acid which eats the enamel at the gum line, creating an even better home for itself -> plaque -> gingivitis, etc. Apparently there is a cousin that'll live in the same 'ecological niche' that doesn't do this and it's possible to replace the nasty with the benign. Have read on this twice, both sourced from dentistry school at Duke, first time in late '70s; I've only met one dentist who'll admit to the bacteria bit, n

        • Well, was leery of my memory on this.... so eventually spent some time reading
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streptococcus_mutans [wikipedia.org]
          and a few of the included links. Was an eye opener and worth the time. About the only smart thing I've been doing is using baking soda and peroxide for brushing, along with a half-decent mouthwash. Never did find the reference I was looking for but don't want to take the time from other stuff right now to try to find it.

    • Sugar gets more evil every day. I've heard that sugar causes or is linked to:

      • tooth decay
      • weight problems
      • diabetes
      • acne
      • dementia

      And, I've heard that sugar is acidic, but how and what that means other than that it's somehow bad I don't know. Acidic foods cause faster aging, maybe? Wish I'd known about the link to acne back in high school.

      Sugar causes none of those things. The consumption of sugar, however, may be a different story. As for high school acne, sex hormones are the most likely cause of that, particularly for males.

    • There are already five forms of diabetes. Type 1 (early onset, no pancreatic function, incurable); Type 1.5 (Late onset, no pancreatic function, incurable); Pre Type 2 Diabetes (insulin resistance building, possibly curable); Type 2 (late onset, insulin resistance, some pancreatic function, incurable); and Gestational Diabetes (hormonal imbalance create insulin resistance, temporary). So this might be a sixth.
      • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @02:50PM (#44536925)
        There are already five forms of diabetes. Type 1 (early onset, no pancreatic function, incurable); Type 1.5 (Late onset, no pancreatic function, incurable); Pre Type 2 Diabetes (insulin resistance building, possibly curable); Type 2 (late onset, insulin resistance, some pancreatic function, incurable); and Gestational Diabetes (hormonal imbalance create insulin resistance, temporary).

        Actually you have three groups.
        Auto-immune: T1 and T1.5 (LADA).
        Insulin resistant: Pre-Diabetes, T2 and Gestational Diabetes.
        Mitochondial malfunction: Very misleadingly called Mature Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY). N.B. it is possible for young people, especially women with PCOS, to have insulin resistance diabetes.

        Only insulin resistant diabetes can be reversed (cured). Only in some cases, the degree & length of time of the insulin resistance along with injury to beta cells and liver due to glucotoxicity being possible factors here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:04AM (#44535729)

    Vascular dementia is caused by the breakdown and rupture of small blood vessels in the brain.

    High levels of serum glucose lead to high levels of damage in small blood vessels and the desctuction of 'Highly Vascularized Tissue'.

    Chronic kidney disease is a typical outcome of high serum glucose.

    Seems like there's a pattern here.

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      Seems to make sense. I haven't known too many old people, but the ones who got dementia as they aged were also the ones with diabetes and kidney problems. There could also be a direct blood sugar to brain cell connection. Perhaps higher blood sugar makes the brain form connections differently, or somehow contributes to the plaque formations that sometimes come with dementia.
  • Brain diabetes (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeathGrippe ( 2906227 ) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:04AM (#44535731)

    This is particularly interesting because alzheimer's is now thought, by many researchers, to be a form of "brain diabetes."

    There are clinical data which demonstrate that alzheimer's can be reversed to some extent with medium chain triglycerides, which are absorbed by cells directly and provide energy which isn't dependent on glucose uptake.

    See: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/alzheimers-diabetes-brain [doctoroz.com] and http://w.numedica.net/literature/Reger%202004.pdf [numedica.net] for more info.

    • The MCTs are inherently ketogenic. The gut and liver separate them out from other fats and metabolize them right away, yielding ketones.

      Given the ketogenic diets not using MCTs are effective in protecting against or reversing the effects of various brain disorders (epilepsy, Alzheimer's, parkinsons etc.) and given that we know some of the mechanisms through which ketones are neuroprotective, it's reasonable to presume it isn't the MCTs directly which help, it's the keytones that they promote.

      If the above is

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by pellik ( 193063 )

        The MCTs are inherently ketogenic. The gut and liver separate them out from other fats and metabolize them right away, yielding ketones.

        Given the ketogenic diets not using MCTs are effective in protecting against or reversing the effects of various brain disorders (epilepsy, Alzheimer's, parkinsons etc.) and given that we know some of the mechanisms through which ketones are neuroprotective, it's reasonable to presume it isn't the MCTs directly which help, it's the keytones that they promote.

        If the above is true, then while MCTs may be fine, a proper ketogenic diet would be better, since it improves blood sugar control.

        So quit eating vegetables and start eating lots of saturated fats, eggs and fatty meat if you don't want to go doolally in your old age.

        Yes, a diet very high in saturated fats will drastically reduce your chances of experience this or any other disease typically associated with old age.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dam looks like im screwed ....anon because i forgot my logon :(

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:26PM (#44536137) Homepage

    Okay, so perhaps it is over-simplifying the over-all issue and doesn't recognize the increased understanding of what affects what in what ways. It's important, so I'm not going to discount that value.

    But the short of it is always this:

    1. The body is a chemical machine. It needs good balance. When people screw with it too much beyond its tollerance, it's bad. We know this already. We hear "balanced diet" all the time. Trouble is, "balanced diets" are mostly a lie and because of human diversity, what is balanced for one person isn't balanced for another.
    2. People are constantly trying to cut the head off of the body when it comes to illness. If it's "mental illness" they want to blame something mental. If it's something else, they want to blame the body in some way. It's as if this "blood brain barrier" is a thing that people believe contains the soul and spirit of a person. "Magic" right?

    It's just not like that. We're all machines through and through. We know chemicals can affect our mood, our judgement, our response time, out ability to think clearly and some would say even enhance our thinking on some ways (I disagree, but okay...) We know we can affect our minds with chemicals and yet we STILL want to believe the mind is separate from the body.

    Everyone needs to stop thinking this. Everyone. Laymen, Medical professionals, Police, Justice, Welfare services, Employers and more. Just Everyone.

    I see this as completely obvious. Other people still cling to their ideas which are simply and demonstrably wrong.

    • You are correct. We are a bag of chemical reactions and they all interact. The brain is no exception, particularly when it comes to the metabolism.

    • by mpe ( 36238 )
      1. The body is a chemical machine. It needs good balance. When people screw with it too much beyond its tollerance, it's bad. We know this already. We hear "balanced diet" all the time. Trouble is, "balanced diets" are mostly a lie and because of human diversity, what is balanced for one person isn't balanced for another.

      There is an older phrase "one man's meat is another man's poison". Often a "one size fits all" approach appears in government sponsored dietary advice. (Even such obvious daftness as tell
    • You reminded me of "The Body has a Head" by Gustav Eckstein. My takeaway is that we're a chemical-mechanical system of stuff wherein (or whereof) resides a mind. It's a great read, and presents among other things a biographical history to the advance of medical knowledge, the nesting and relation of systems, and the body's striving for homeostasis. Written in 1970 and to this day an indispensable book for anyone who wants to know about their body or of medicine. Sorry, this reads like an advert. Well,

  • by satuon ( 1822492 ) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:31PM (#44536185)

    I wonder how many of the 'stress'-related and weird 'genetic' illnesses just come down to decades of bad diet? I suspect that diet is more important than stress or physical exercise.

  • I was an undiagnosed Type 2 for a very long time, and since diagnoses it's become clear to me that brain function and mood are very closely tied to my blood sugar levels.

    Undiagnosed I would experience bouts of temper or melancholy that came from nowhere in particular, and these have been mostly eliminated since I started to medicate.

    When sugars a low it's very hard to think at all, you can't concentrate, and it's hard to coordinate movement. Those that think lows can be cured by simply eating chocolate
  • One of my relatives has a serious mental disorder which manifest in many ways but primarily in total lack of self control. And he has a severe sweet tooth. For example, if there is any ice cream or candy on junk food in the house, he is likely to eat all of it on one sitting. It is not at all uncommon to see a half-gallon of ice cream disappear in moments. Or a day spent in nearly continuous eating. Food that should last a week might last a day or two.

    As a result of this, the relative has awful gluco

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