Type 2 diabetes reduces quality of life and researchers have now found that it may also decrease certain cognitive abilities, known as executive functions.
Type 2 diabetes is associated with bad performance on cognitive tests, measuring abilities involved in the control of emotions, behaviour and thought, the findings showed.
“This facet of brain function is particularly important because we rely on it when we are attempting to behave in a way that is contrary to our natural inclinations or what the environment impels us to do,” said lead author Corrie Vincent from the University of Waterloo in Canada.
The researchers reviewed 60 studies, comparing 9,815 individuals with type 2 diabetes to 69,254 controls without it and examined their performance on measures of executive function.
“Essentially people with type 2 diabetes may be hit with the double whammy of having more need for executive control but – possibly because of the disease’s effect on the brain – less intact resources for exerting it,” senior author Peter Hall, professor at the University of Waterloo, added.
Approximately 600 million people live with type 2 diabetes worldwide, with nearly 800 million cases expected by 2030, making it one of the greatest global health concerns of modern times.
“Fortunately, there are a few things that can help optimise the brain structures that support executive function,” Hall said.
“Aerobic exercise and cognitively challenging activities – such as learning new things, solving difficult puzzles and other problem solving activities – all help to keep your brain sharp,” said Hall.
The study appeared in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.