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Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer, every year around 67,000 people lose their lives to dementia. To put this in perspective, the capacity of London Olympic Stadium in its current guise as West Ham United’s home ground has a capacity of 66,000 people. Such is the magnitude of the death toll – one only set to grow as the number of cases grows – scientists are hard at work to try and treat the disease and potentially cure it. They’re also working to understand what increases or decreases someone’s risk of dementia; one of the latest studies believes a common condition affecting five million people may hold a clue.
According to a study by the National University of Ireland, people with diabetes in their middle-age are four times more likely to develop dementia than those who don’t.
Published in the journal Neurology, the study suggests diabetes leads to the build-up of harmful proteins in the brain such as tau amyloid-beta.
Amyloid-beta is the leading cause of the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s.
Leader of the study Professor Emer McGrath said: “This shows that people who have diabetes in their 50s are more likely to develop dementia – probably because having the condition at a younger age can do more damage to your body and brain.”
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In the UK the most common form of diabetes is type two, accounting for more than 90 percent of cases.
Symptoms of the disease include:
• Urinating more than usual
• Feeling thirsty all the time
• Feeling very tired
• Losing weight without trying to
• Itching around the genitalia
• Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
• Blurred vision.
Type 2 diabetes – both managing and the likelihood of developing the condition – is greatly impacted by diet and lifestyle habits; experts have given their opinion on how much a diabetic can safely drink.
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 have to be careful what they consume and when so as not to upset their blood sugar level.
However, this doesn’t mean diabetics have to live a frivolity-free diet; like most people they can still drink alcohol should they so desire.
Charity Diabetes UK says a diagnosis doesn’t have to stop someone from enjoying alcohol, but the NHS does provide guidance for those who are unsure.
Just like the rest of the population, they recommend keeping to a maximum of 14 units per week.
However, for diabetics specifically, they recommend eating a meal with carbohydrate before drinking, wearing a diabetes ID wristband so staff are aware you have diabetes, and checking blood glucose levels regularly.
They also suggest in the name of safety letting any friends diabetics sharing the night with know what a hypo looks like.
A hypo is when the body begins to go into shock due to low blood sugar levels; these can be hard to spot on a night out as those on a hypo can at first appear inebriated.
Symptoms of a hypo include sweating, dizziness, feeling tired, slurred speech, clumsiness, and passing out.
This isn’t a full list of symptoms, but it is good practice to educate oneself on these so friends with diabetes can enjoy their night out as much as everyone else.
Around five million people have diabetes in the UK, a number set to continue to grow further.
A diabetes diagnosis can be shocking, but it doesn’t need to lower quality of life.