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A recent dangerously misleading headline and report on NPR does not accurately reflect the content of the story, and reinforces the need for critically reading media reports to skillfully taking charge of your own healthcare.  Don’t let the media mislead you.

The report is about a conference on how blood sugar metabolism in the brain might predispose people to Alzheimer’s disease.  The headline claims that controlling blood sugar could prevent Alzheimer’s disease. But it could be very DANGEROUS to try to lower your blood sugars without using great caution in how you do it.  

And simply lowering blood sugars using current methods, even just lifestyle change, has not been proven to help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Though the participants in the conference did discuss how “keeping your blood sugar in check could lower your Alzheimer’s risk.”, the key conclusion was that while their findings advanced the science of brain glucose metabolism, and found potential links between how the brain metabolizes glucose and how it could develop Alzheimer’s disease, no clear causal conclusions could be drawn.

Importantly, the current methods of controlling blood sugar were not tested for their safety and efficacy in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

A key disconnect in the data not mentioned in the report was that while Alzheimer’s disease only affects one percent of people in the US, there are many more diabetics than that who have poorly controlled blood sugars.  

Much work needs to be done before the interesting findings presented by these scientists can be translated into a safe and effective plan for treating diabetes to prevent it from causing  Alzheimer’s disease.

An important caveat was stated clearly in the article; Low blood sugar could cause problems that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.  That means exerting caution in how patients control their blood sugar to avoid low, as well as high levels.

Also of note, the apoE enzyme mentioned that normalized brain sugar metabolism and brain cell function in rats worked in rats with high blood sugars.  That suggests that the blood sugar itself is not the problem, but rather that how the brain cells handle blood sugar causes trouble.

We repeat, do not try to change your diabetes treatment plan without first talking to your doctor.  But by all means talk to your doctor about doing the best you can to keep your weight safely down and your blood sugar safely controlled.  As the report does mention, there are lots of reasons to do those things for yourself.

At Operam we help you learn how to ask and answer important questions about your health, and work well with your doctors to make the best decisions about your health care and disease management.  Call us at 203-692-4422, or email us at ajc@operamhealthcare.com for a free consultation.