Heavy drinking increases risk of dementia

22 February, 2018, 01:07 | Author: Lorraine Moran
  • GETTYExperts said even hitting the bottle occasionally can have adverse affects on brain health

Alcohol disorders could increase a person's risk of having early-onset dementia. Of the 57,000 cases of early onset dementia reported in the study, the majority were related to chronic heavy drinking.

Heavy drinking triples the risk of dementia and most early cases of the disorder are caused by alcohol misuse, the largest study of its kind concluded.

"The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths", the study's co-author and director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research Jürgen Rehm said in a statement.

"Alcohol use disorders also increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure, which may in turn increase the risk of vascular dementia".

"Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care", CAMH Vice-President of Research, Dr. Bruce Pollack, said in the press release.

Non-modifiable risk factors for dementia include age, a family history and genetics and other medical conditions like Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney disease and HIV, the Alzheimer's Society of Canada says.

Over 6% of men and 1.5% of women discharged from hospital had alcohol use disorders, compared to 16.5 % of men and 4% of women with dementia.

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"This is a worthwhile study but it does not prove that dementia has been caused by people drinking alcohol or that people who now drink alcohol will develop dementia".

This prevalence increased in patients with early-onset dementia: 38.9% (22,338/57,353 cases) of early-onset cases were associated with alcohol-related brain damage and 17.6% (10,115/57,353 cases) were associated with other alcohol use disorders. Other alcohol use disorders were recorded in nearly 5% of all dementia cases (52,625/1,109,343 cases). "It is very striking that for people who were heavy drinkers and had at least a period of abstinence, the level of risk of dementia is about the same", he pointed out.

"Given the strength of the association, what is the most surprising to me is that alcohol-use disorders had received so little interest in dementia research and public health policies", Schwarzinger said.

"There is a strong effect of large alcohol consumption and brain damage".

Overall, 6.2% of men discharged from hospital had a diagnosis of alcohol use disorders. But the latest study emphasizes that escalating to heavy drinking habits can have detrimental consequences. It revealed that people who engaged in binge drinking had a 62% higher chance of suffering from decline in cognitive function.

There are lots of reasons why drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis is not a good idea. "The more people you have, the less confidence you have in the elements that go into the diagnosis of dementia".

Ballard and Lang disclosed relevant relationships with Acadia Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck, Roche, Otusaka, Novartis, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer.



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