Just how bad for you is refined sugar, exactly? So far in the last few months, the link between too much sugar and heart disease (and the sugar industry coverup) has been outed and it’s been accused of killing 180,000 people a year, albeit indirectly. And now, there might be a link between the sweet stuff and Alzheimer’s.
Researchers at the University of Bath were curious about the comorbidity between diabetes type II and Alzheimer’s. It’s such a strong link some researchers are arguing that Alzheimer’s should be classified as a form of diabetes. So why were diabetes sufferers also getting Alzheimer’s in such large numbers?
Their hypothesis was that the hyperglycemia that causes cell damage elsewhere in the body did so in the brain as well. So they looked at brain samples of Alzheimer’s and non-Alzheimer’s patients, and used a fluorescing marker to look for proteins damaged by sugar. They found that macrophage migration inhibitory factor, or MIF, is damaged by too much sugar. That’s important because MIF helps keep the plaques that define Alzheimer’s from forming in the first place, so basically this research might have just stumbled on the exact connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
There’s a lot more work to be done, of course; too much sugar may have effects elsewhere in the brain, and figuring out how to restore MIF to its proper function might be tricky as well. And it’s worth remembering that this is likely only in extreme, sustained cases of hyperglycemia, so eating a donut today won’t doom you to Alzheimer’s tomorrow. But if the study holds up, it might offer a key insight into just how an awful disease unfolds.
(via New Atlas