Preventing Diabetes May Help Halt Alzheimer’s Progression in New York State, Report Says

Patricia Inacio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inacio, PhD |

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The state of New York lacks effective measures for preventing diabetes, which is fueling a dramatic increase in Alzheimer’s disease. So says a new document, “Unprevented Diabetes Means Unnecessary Alzheimer’s,” issued by Health People: Community Preventive Health Institute.

Doctors say diabetes increases the risk of getting Alzheimer’s by 40 percent. Currently, New York state is home to 5.4 million pre-diabetics — including 1.3 million in New York City alone. Preventive measures that focus on improvements in diet and exercise can halt the progression from pre-diabetes to full disease.

“Without effective diabetes prevention, New York overall will have more than one million new cases of diabetes in the next five years.  That’s one million people with a 40 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s,” Chris Norwood, executive director of Health People and the study’s lead author, said in a press release. “Yet neither the city or state has any cohesive diabetes prevention plan. They have basically abandoned diabetes prevention.”

Norwood says neither the city of New York nor the state government in Albany “spends even one dollar” on the National Diabetes Prevention Program, a multi-session course approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program helps people who already have high blood sugar reduce their chances of converting to diabetes by almost 60 percent — which also slashes their risk of Alzheimer’s.

The report states that preventing even 5 percent of conversions from pre-diabetes to diabetes would, in turn, prevent 325,000 new cases of diabetes over a five-year period. If nothing is done, these new diabetes cases may ultimately lead to nearly 75,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s.

Within New York City, the problem is particularly acute in the Bronx, where 11.4 percent of adults aged 65 or older have diabetes, and 19.1 percent have Alzheimer’s. In Brooklyn, 9.2 percent of seniors have diabetes and 18.7 percent have Alzheimer’s. Lack of preventive measures will lead to an estimated 26,195 new Alzheimer’s cases in Brooklyn and 14,752 cases in the Bronx over the next five years, the report warned.

Throughout New York state, minimal diabetes prevention over a five-year period would prevent 1.35 million new cases of diabetes and 243,000 new Alzheimer’s cases.

“This is just tragic. We know that prevention works,” said Rev. John Williams, founder of New Creation Community Health Empowerment in central Brooklyn. “We have a community that is willing and organized to fight diabetes, but the city won’t help.”