Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer, each year around 67,000 people lose their lives to dementia. To put that into perspective, the capacity of London’s Olympic Stadium in its current form as the home of West Ham United has a capacity of 66,000. Such is the scale of the death toll – which will only rise as the number of cases rises – scientists are hard at work trying to treat the disease and potentially cure it. They also strive to understand what increases or decreases a person’s risk of dementia; one of the latest studies thinks a common disease affecting five million people may hold a clue.
According to a study by the National University of Ireland, middle-aged people with diabetes are four times more likely to develop dementia than those without.
Published in the journal Neurology, the study suggests that diabetes leads to the buildup of harmful proteins in the brain such as beta-amyloid tau.
Beta-amyloid is the main cause of the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease.
Study leader Professor Emer McGrath said: “This shows that people with diabetes in their 50s are more likely to develop dementia – probably because the disease at a younger age can cause more damage. your body and your brain.”
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In the UK, the most common form of diabetes is type 2, accounting for over 90% of cases.
Symptoms of the disease include:
• Urinate more than usual
• Being thirsty all the time
• Feeling very tired
• Lose weight without trying to
• Itching around the genitals
• Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
• Blurred vision.
Type 2 diabetes – both management and the likelihood of developing the disease – is strongly influenced by diet and lifestyle; experts have given their opinion on how much a diabetic can safely drink.
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Eating is something most people take for granted unless they have a number of food allergies or intolerances, but for diabetics, diet is a balancing act.
This means they need to be careful about what they eat and when so as not to upset their blood sugar levels.
However, this does not mean that diabetics should follow a no-frills diet; like most people, they can still drink alcohol if they want.
Charity Diabetes UK says a diagnosis doesn’t have to stop someone enjoying alcohol, but the NHS is providing advice for those who are unsure.
Just like the rest of the population, they recommend sticking to a maximum of 14 units per week.
However, for diabetics in particular, they recommend eating a meal with carbohydrates before drinking, wearing a diabetes ID bracelet so staff know you have diabetes, and checking blood sugar regularly.
They also suggest, in the name of safety, to let any diabetic friend you share the night with know what low blood sugar looks like.
A hypo occurs when the body begins to go into shock due to low blood sugar. these can be difficult to spot at a party, as those with low blood sugar may initially appear intoxicated.
Symptoms of a hypo are sweating, dizziness, feeling tired, slurred speech, clumsiness, and fainting.
This is not a complete list of symptoms, but it is recommended that you learn about them so that diabetic friends can enjoy their evening as much as others.
Around five million people have diabetes in the UK, a number that is expected to continue to rise.
A diagnosis of diabetes can be shocking, but it doesn’t have to affect quality of life.