Diabetes and Dementia: Is Metformin the New Aspirin?


Research suggests there is a close relationship between diabetes and dementia (and more specifically, diabetes and Alzheimer’s). I know I shouldn’t be worried about it since I’m well controlled and most of the data about diabetes and dementia refers to people with type 2 diabetes who often have a lot of extra insulin floating around. But still, as I get older and see people I knew as a child lose some of their cognitive abilities, I can’t help but worry about it.

This is why I was so happy to find out that a new study (conducted on type 2 diabetes patients) found that diabetes drug metformin may reduce risk of dementia.

Metformin’s primary effect is that it inhibits the liver’s production of glucose and, possibly, stimulates the process of transporting glucose into muscles, a process that requires insulin.

The study, not yet published but reported by WebMD, found that type 2 diabetes patients taking metformin were 20% less likely to develop dementia than those being treated with sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones (TZDs) or insulin. of the patients included in the study were aged 55 or older, and all had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. (People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop dementia).

During the study, nearly 10% of the patients were diagnosed with dementia but the researchers were unable to differentiate between Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The study was an observational, retrospective, population-based study, which found an association between metformin and reduced dementia, but did not prove cause and effect.

Originally, when I asked my doctor to put me on metformin I hoped that it would help me with my blood sugar control. Until not long ago, I thought it was really helping but now after taking a break from it, I’m not so sure what effect it has on my insulin requirements and my blood sugar levels. (It may be because I’m on a low dose.)

But I am very happy to be taking metformin even if it has no effect whatsoever on my diabetes management as there seems to be a growing body of evidence that metformin has more positive effects than just lowering A1c’s in type 2 patients.

Research has found that metformin has a cancer-lowering effect and may help both in reducing the risk of cancer and the treatment of some forms of cancer.

With so much new evidence of the positive effects of metformin, combined with its low cost and minimal side effects it seems like metformin could emerge as the next aspirin (I’m on aspirin, too) being prescribed to healthy people for its protective effects.

So, I will continue to take my metformin, enjoying the effects it may or may not have on my blood sugar and enjoying the news about all of the other protective effects it may have.

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