Medicine

Heavy drinking may increase risk for dementia

Heavy drinking may increase risk for dementia

"Moderate drinking has been consistently associated with detrimental effects on brain structure, and almost every review describes methodological problems of underlying studies, such as inconsistent measurement of alcohol use or dementia, or both, and insufficient control of potential confounders".

The researchers studied records from the French National Hospital Discharge database of all patients, ≥20 years, in metropolitan France, tracing the hospital trajectory of each patient from 2008 to 2013. While the overall majority of dementia patients were women, nearly two-thirds of all early-onset dementia patients (64.9 per cent) were men.

Immoderate drinking boosts major dementia risks for all of its types especially the early onset dementia, says the latest retrospective study performed in France and disclosed by The Lancet Public Health.

"However, it in no way suggests moderate alcohol intake could cause early-onset dementia". This may strengthen the association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia, due to the ongoing stigma regarding how alcohol-use disorders are reported. "A variety of measures are needed, such as reducing availability, increasing taxation and banning advertising and marketing of alcohol, alongside early detection and treatment of alcohol use disorders".

Although many studies have shown a strong association between excessive alcohol use and dementia, this study is unique in its findings about early-onset dementia, according to Dr. Kostas Lyketsos, a neuropsychiatry professor and director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer's Treatment Center who was not involved in the study.

"This study suggests that alcohol abuse disorders may be responsible for more cases of early-onset dementia than previously thought".

Heavy drinkers are at increased risk of developing dementia, a progressive brain disease that generally begins with mild memory loss, suggests the largest study of its kind ever conducted.

Given the strength of the association found in our study, this threshold is certainly below 60g/day for men and 40g/day for women that defines heavy drinking and most likely below 30g/day for men and 20g/day for women that defines at risk consumption.

It also raises the risk of head injuries, stroke and heart problems, which in turn can lead to increased dementia risk.

"Heavy drinking should be recognised as a major risk factor for all types of dementia".

"Lastly, heavy drinking clusters (in) people with less education, smoking habits, and/or depression".

Most people suffering from AUD will engage in binge drinking - with men consuming five or more drinks within two hours; and women having at least four drinks within the same period. "Many efforts are being started now to look into potential ways of prevention, and reduction of alcohol consumption is now a promising way to reduce incidence of dementia, or to postpone the onset".

The gender difference could also result from the study's methodology, according to Lyketsos.

Alcohol use was also not objectively measured in the participants, one of the study's main limitations.

"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".


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