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Previous research has found that diabetes can harm mental ability but new findings suggest an early start to the deterioration. Researchers have found that people who develop diabetes as adults may experience a slowdown in mental abilities as early as their 50s.

Researchers have performed two parts of a battery of cognitive tests. One section measured how quickly someone can process information and the other examined executive function, or how effectively someone can plan and strategize. Patients with adult-onset diabetes performed worse than healthy people in both sections. Memory and verbal ability didn’t seem to be affected.

The study results indicate that people with the late onset diabetes should have their cognitive functioning monitored closely and if needed- undergo mental training and in this way compensate for these declines, early.

Although the number of diabetics included in the study was small, the reports like these are likely true, said John Buse, a diabetes researcher at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill who wasn’t involved in the study. He also believes that people with diabetes have on average some reduction of cognitive ability.

A study done by Columbia University researchers found that sudden increases in blood sugar in diabetics could harm memory by damaging the part of the brain known as the hippocampus.

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This is one more incentive for people who develop diabetes as adults to engage in regular physical exercise. Regular physical exercise can help improve blood flow to the brain as well as help maintain blood sugar to a more normal level.
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