Metformin Associated With Increased Dementia Risk in African Americans With Diabetes

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By : Suvarna Sheth

The use of metformin may be associated with an increased risk for dementia in older African Americans with type 2 diabetes, according to research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this week in Chicago, Ill.

The study involved 953 African American participants with an average age of 74.  The group was about 70% female and were apart of the Indianapolis-Ibadan Dementia Project out of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

The aim of this study was to identify risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, as well as cognitive impairment and cognitive decline, by comparing two populations from very different environments elderly African Americans from Indianapolis, and the elderly Yoruba from Ibadan, Nigeria.

“Dementia happens in all populations, but people with diabetes were shown in previous research to have higher rates of dementia,” says Dr. Sujuan Gao, a study author at Indiana University School of Medicine.

“We have not examined the association in other racial groups, as this study only enrolled African Americans,” Gao points out.

The participants were assessed for dementia every second or third year during follow-up. Of the individuals, 150 used metformin. During the follow-up period, it was found that 87 individuals developed dementia.

Researchers conclude the use of metformin was linked with a greater risk for incident dementia in the study. Further, they found that individuals using metformin were at increased risk for complications with diabetes.

“There was a significant association between metformin use and increased risk of incident dementia in African American participants with diabetes,” researchers reported in Neurology Advisor. “Further research is needed to determine the factors underlying this association.”

You can learn more about diabetes and its link to cognitive function here.


  1. Murray M.D., Hendrie HC, Xu C, Teal E, Callahan CM, Gao S. The association between metformin and incident dementia in a cohort of African Americans with diabetes. Presented at: 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. July 22-26, 2018; Chicago, IL. Abstract 25542.