Two of the most worrisome trends in healthcare — the soaring rates of Type 2 diabetes and dementia — share several key biological processes. And scientists are beginning to think that is more than just a coincidence.

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Many researchers now believe that proper control of blood sugar could pay dividends in the future by reducing the number of people stricken by Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia and even the normal cognitive decline that comes with age.

The concept that brain diseases share little in common with diseases arising elsewhere in the body is rapidly crumbling, says Debra Cherry, executive vice president of the Alzheimer’s Assn. California Southland. The key characteristics found in the development of heart disease and stroke — clogged arteries and inflammation in cells — also affect the brain.

On the flip side, she adds, “what is good for the reduction of diabetes risk is also good for reduction of the risk of cognitive impairment.”

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