Heavy Drinking could Increase Dementia Risk

GETTYExperts said even hitting the bottle occasionally can have adverse affects on brain health

He said: '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.' The academics said alcohol attacks the brain in a number of ways, leading to permanent structural and functional damage.

The study, considered to be the largest in terms of database analyzed, thoroughly looked at the records of more than 30 million people that were admitted to the French National Hospital from the period of 2008 to 2013. While the overall majority of dementia patients were women, nearly two-thirds of all early-onset dementia patients were men. Of those, 35,034 cases of dementia were attributable to alcohol-related brain damage, and 52,625 cases had other alcohol use disorders.

But even when the researchers controlled for factors like high blood pressure, obesity and tobacco smoking, heavy alcohol use was still associated with a more than threefold increase in dementia among both sexes.

A study published on 20 February in the Lancet Public Health has suggested that alcohol abuse addiction disorders are a major risk factor for dementia, specifically early onset dementia.

"Additionally, clinicians should be better aware of the role of alcohol use disorders in dementia onset over the lifetime, which seems to be a risk factor often omitted".

"As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition", CAMH Vice President of Research Bruce Pollock said.

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The authors also mentioned that on average, alcohol use disorders could reduce life expectancy by about 20 years, and dementia among the prominent causes of death for these people.

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. What they found was the 57 per cent of these cases were related to chronic heavy drinking.

Though heavy alcohol use increased the risk of dementia in general, the association was shown to be stronger in men.

There are several types of dementia - Alzheimer's disease being the most common, followed by vascular dementia. They identified alcohol use disorders by discharge codes of mental and behavioral disorders stemming from former or current chronic, harmful alcohol use, or chronic diseases attributable to alcohol use disorders like alcoholic liver disease. "There could be a gender effect on who goes to the hospital with dementia".

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic heavy drinking includes consuming more than 60 grams of pure alcohol on average per day for men (averaging out to four to five Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams for women (about three standard drinks). Alcohol use disorder was the primary exposure, and dementia was the main outcome.

"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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