Is There Such a Thing as a Type 3 Diabetes?

What is Type 3 diabetes?

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There are two types of diabetes most of us are very familiar with. You have type 1 diabetes, which is hereditary and usually starts in childhood. This type of diabetes requires insulin treatment since the beta cells of the pancreas aren’t producing insulin. Then you have Type 2 diabetes, which is acquired and usually starts in adulthood. This can be controlled by exercise, diet, and anti-diabetic drugs. But if the blood sugar levels are uncontrolled and remain elevated, insulin treatment may also be prescribed.

But did you know that there is now a new form of diabetes? Or that this third type of diabetes is occurring in the brain?

Alzheimer’s Disease as Type 3 Diabetes

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive brain disease that affects, damages, and kills neurons. Although not all from the medical community embrace this categorization, Alzheimer’s Disease is now being called Type 3 diabetes or brain diabetes.

Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by numerous factors including genetic predisposition, lifestyle choices, as well as environmental factors. Studies have also shown that elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance in the brain contribute to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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The Link between Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes

High blood sugar levels contribute to chronic low-grade inflammation not only in the body but in the brain as well. This chronic, low-grade inflammation results in insulin resistance throughout the body and the brain, causing nerve damage.

Insulin resistance weakens insulin’s ability to transport glucose into the neurons. This impairs glucose metabolism in the brain. It also deprives the neurons of getting the glucose they need to function properly. The whole process damages the neurons and worsens the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, resulting in cognitive dysfunction like dementia, confusion, memory loss, as well as a decline in reasoning skills, solving problems, and thinking.

Amyloid beta and tau protein deposits in the brain are one of the hallmark features of Alzheimer’s Disease. Studies revealed that there is also an accumulation of amyloid beta and tau proteins in the pancreas of many patients with Type 2 diabetes. This similar pathogenic feature in both Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes further strengthens the link between the two diseases.

Not all in the medical community may agree in categorizing Alzheimer’s Disease as a new type of diabetes, but there is strong evidence that supports this hypothesis.

References

Alzheimer’s Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes–Evidence Reviewed. URL Link. November 6, 2017.

Beta amyloid and hyperphosphorylated tau deposits in the pancreas in type 2 diabetes. URL Link. November 6, 2017.

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Jen is a physical therapist and freelance medical writer from the Philippines. She's a regular contributor to several health blogs, including medical cannabis sites. She left her day job in 2006 and finds it more fulfilling to work from home, be with her family, and write about topics she's passionate about (anything about the medical world!).