Several studies presented at a meeting in Spain this week showed that patients who took some of the drugs prescribed for Type 2 diabetes were less likely to have Alzheimer's disease.
There is no cure for Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, which affect more than 4 million people in the United States.
Evidence suggests diet and exercise might affect Alzheimer's rates, and researchers told the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders that they found clear links with diabetes.
Donald Miller of Boston University found that among 142,328 Veterans Affairs patients, those taking diabetes medications known as glitazones or thiazolidinediones (TZDs) had almost 20% fewer new cases of Alzheimer's than those on insulin.
Dr. David Geldmacher of the University of Virginia and colleagues tested the TZD pioglitazone in Alzheimer's patients who did not have diabetes. Alzheimer's appeared to progress more slowly in 12 of the 25 patients who took pioglitazone.