New research suggests stress is associated with memory loss among older people with diabetes.
In the study, University of Edinburgh researchers followed more than 900 men and women aged between 60 and 75 with type-2 diabetes.
Scientists evaluated mental abilities with a range of tests, including memory function and how quickly participants processed information.
They compared this with general intelligence levels, using vocabulary tests, to work out whether brain function in participants had diminished over time.
They found that brain function slowed in participants with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
This study shows that older people with diabetes who have higher levels of stress hormones in their blood are more likely to have experienced cognitive decline. It may be that regulating cortisol levels could help improve cognitive decline in patients with type-2 diabetes.
The study, published by Diabetes Care, took into account factors such as education, cardiovascular disease, smoking and mood.
It is part of the Edinburgh Type-2 Diabetes Study which was initiated four years ago to better understand why people with diabetes may have memory problems.
Researchers are now inviting people who enrolled when the study was set up to take part in followup research to repeat the memory tests.
Adult-onset or Type-2 diabetes tends to be more common after the age of 40. The condition is linked to problems with memory, but the reason behind this is unclear.
Future studies will review other factors which may also affect memory problems.
Source: University of Edinburgh