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Stress raises risk of cognitive decline in elderly diabetics

Category: General Health

Older diabetics may want to consider seeking a cortisol test, as recent research has shown that the stress hormone may contribute to cognitive decline in seniors who have poor insulin control.

A team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh administered tests of mental capacity to more than 900 individuals between the ages of 60 and 75 with type 2 diabetes. The tests were designed to measure vocabulary, learning ability and memory.

Investigators then took measures of the participants' blood-cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body following stressful situations. Results of the study revealed that high levels of the hormone were associated with poorer scores on the tests of mental ability in the individuals with diabetes.

Instances of type 2 diabetes have been rising steadily in recent years. The condition becomes more common in individuals over age 40, compounding the risk of cognitive decline in the aging population.

The metabolic condition has been associated in previous studies with cognitive decline in seniors. Researchers speculated that cortisol may exacerbate the problem. They plan to conduct future studies to try to discover the biological mechanism behind this association.

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