Help Decide the Future of Aging. Join the White House’s Live Stream Tomorrow From Seattle. Learn more


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy
Bob Dylan Talks!


Military and Veterans Discount


You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation


Introducing RealPad by AARP


AARP Auto Buying Program


Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Download the ipad App



AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning Centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.


Heart Disease


Most Popular


Treating Alzheimer's Disease With Insulin

Memory improved in a pilot study with nasal spray

Untangling the evidence

Tracking down the connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's is akin to landing in the middle of an old Dragnet episode on television where Jack Webb, playing cop Joe Friday, intoned,"All we want are the facts, ma'am." Scientists understand that the two diseases are related, but they are still investigating the reason behind it.

"Many studies have linked the two diseases," says neurologist Sam Gandy, M.D., of Mount Sinai Medical School in New York. But diabetes and Alzheimer's are complex conditions, and the biological reason for the link is unclear. "The link seems to be related more to type 2 diabetes than type 1, and a key feature of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance," he says.

Researchers have successfully demonstrated that the nasal insulin spray "stabilizes or improves cognitive function in mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer's."

Last year Gandy's laboratory studied the first gene linked to both Alzheimer's and type 2 diabetes and showed that a defect in that gene in mice is associated with the accumulation of plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's.

Now Craft and her colleagues have successfully demonstrated that the nasal insulin spray "stabilizes or improves cognitive function in mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer's," says Gandy. "These results must be confirmed independently, of course, before they can be accepted as fact. But if they are, although this was considered an unconventional approach, we would have a clear, plausible pathway for developing novel therapies for Alzheimer's."

William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association, cautions that this is a preliminary study but notes that the results are encouraging enough to warrant a larger and longer trial. "At this point we don't have a definitive therapy for Alzheimer's, so it's good to be able to identify another direction to look for potential treatments," he says.

What to do now?

As yet, there is no cure for Alzheimer's, but preventing the development of insulin resistance through a healthy diet and exercise is an achievable goal, notes Craft. "You'll derive a benefit no matter when you start," she says. And you'll help not only your mind but your body as well.

Nissa Simon writes about health and science in New Haven, Conn.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members can save 20% on hearing aids with the AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA.

AARP membership discount Man trying on eyeglasses at optometrists smiling

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at LensCrafters.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.