It has been known for many years  that type has an adverse affect on the brain.  A recent stud has shown that the disease is linked with the loss of brain matter.

The researchers used MRI or resonance imaging to study the brain structures if 614 patients. The mean age was 62 and all participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and on average had had the disease for a period of 10 years.

The researchers found that that long term diabetics had the greets loss of brain tissue. This finding suggests that brain atrophy is occurring.

“It’d been thought that most, if not all, of the effect of diabetes on the brain was due to vascular disease that diabetics get and, therefore, stroke,” lead study author Dr. R. Nick Bryan, professor emeritus of the department of radiology at the Perleman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, told “We found that in addition to that, there’s sort of diffuse loss of brain tissue, atrophy… we think may have a direct effect of the diabetes on the brain.”

During the study researchers found that the greatest reduction in brain volume was seen in the brains grey matter. It is a well accepted fact that this is where the brains neurone are located.

When grey matter shrinks, it is thought that this is the beginning of the neurodegenerative process.  Since patients with diabetes have been previously shown to have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the findings suggest cognitive changes may be related to neurodegeneration.

“[We’re] not saying all [people with diabetes] will get Alzheimer’s, but suggesting that many of them will have worse cognition and worse thinking ability as they get older and probably more of them will get neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s, than non-Alzheimer’s patients,” Bryan said.

The findings suggest that for every 10 years of a diabetic condition the brain appears to be two years older.

“One thing that’s pretty clear was that the adverse effect of diabetes was significantly worse in patients who had diabetes longer,” Bryan said.

To read the study published in the American Diabetes Journal follow this link.