Brain news

Every month I receive a copy of Brain News from the non-profit Dana Foundation in New York. Lately, I've read the publication with increasing interest because it reports on wide-ranging research about how brains work or don't work - and what that means for our world's population.

Of special note this month is an article entitled Diabetes Research Could Aid in Alzheimer's Fight, first published by the Globe and Mail in Toronto. Here are the paragraphs that caught my eye:

Jack Diamond, scientific director of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, said there are whisperings in the scientific community that Alzheimer's disease may actually be "Type 3 diabetes," where a resistance to insulin causes inflammation only in the brain, just like it does in the pancreases of those with Type 2 diabetes.

"If true, [this] will enormously influence the future direction of drug research for this condition," he said. Other research showed that in a nine-year study following 1,173 individuals 75 and older, borderline diabetes was associated with an almost 70-per-cent increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease. About one in three (397) developed dementia during the follow-up, including 307 who developed Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's could be a form of diabetes?
Man oh man oh man. If this is true, we are in for a sh*tload of long-term problems that we haven't even begun to address. The article is about Canada, but all you need to do is swap out that country's name with 'North Carolina' and alarm bells should be ringing from every corner of the state.

A growing body of scientific evidence showing strong links between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease could have major health implications for a Canadian North Carolina population that is getting older and fatter.

Almost everyone understands that North Carolina is facing an epidemic of obesity that poses unparalleled health risks and costs to our society. Meanwhile, we have a chorus of government-hating zealots who condone advertising that sells crappy food to kids and and fight tooth and nail against the improvement of health services.

But what if there is a direct linkage between obesity and Alzheimer's? Shouldn't smart policymakers be looking ahead to that possibility with a plan to intervene in the "free markets" that subsidize corn syrup and unhealthy foods at every turn? I know the government-haters have a big problem with planning, so I don't expect them to be of any help. But the rest of us, people concerned about the common good and public sector competence, we should be thinking through the implications for the likely need of services and funding that might come into play.