The abundance of a hormone produced by fat cells in the body increases the risk of dementia, especially in women, a new study suggests.
Adiponectin is a fat-derived hormone that helps regulate metabolism and sensitizes the body’s response to insulin. High levels of the hormone have previously been found to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and are now associated with a loss of brain function.
“We expected adiponectin to protect against dementia, and it turned out to be just the opposite,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Ernst Schaefer, director of the Tufts University Lipid Metabolism Laboratory in Boston.
Researchers tracked over 840 patients for 13 years and found that female patients with increased levels of adiponectin were 60 percent more likely to develop dementia and 90 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The findings were published in the Archives of Neurology.
Study authors theorized that the bodies of patients with Alzheimer’s produced more adiponectin in an effort to combat insulin resistance that is common with the disease.
Approximately 36 million people are affected by dementia worldwide, according to the World Alzheimer’s Report, and that number is expected to double in the next couple of decades.