Drink too much and you could lose your mind ... for good
A study shows that almost six in 10 dementia diagnoses before the age of 65 are linked to heavy drinking
The majority of cases of early-onset dementia are now caused by alcohol, major research suggests.
A study of more than one million dementia sufferers, published in the journal The Lancet Public Health, shows almost six in 10 diagnoses before the age of 65 are linked to heavy drinking.
Experts said the study showed the burden of disease linked to alcohol was “much larger than previously thought”.
The study tracked more than 31 million patients discharged from hospitals in France between 2008 and 2013, including 1.1 million cases of dementia. Of those, 57,353 patients received their diagnosis before the age of 65.It found 39% of cases were suffering from alcohol-related brain damage, while a further 18% of sufferers had already been diagnosed as suffering from an alcohol problem. Overall, patients diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder had three times the risk of dementia at any age.
The study, by the Translational Health Economics Network in Paris, based at the Sorbonne, did not examine the impact of moderate alcohol intake.
NHS guidance already warns that there is “no safe level of alcohol consumption” when it comes to dementia, with one in three cases of Alzheimer’s disease linked to lifestyle. But experts said more should be done to tackle drinking levels across the population.
“Our findings suggest that the burden of dementia attributable to alcohol use disorders is much larger than previously thought, suggesting that heavy drinking should be recognised as a major risk factor for all types of dementia,” the study’s authors said.Dr Michael Schwarzinger, the lead researcher, said the increased risk was likely to be explained by the fact alcohol could cause “permanent structural and functional brain damage”. 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.”
Dr Sara Imarisio, the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “The findings lend even more weight to calls for people to drink within recommended guidelines. As this study only looked at the people who had been admitted to hospital due to chronic heavy drinking, it doesn’t reveal the full extent of the link between alcohol use and dementia risk.
“Previous research has indicated that even moderate drinking may have a negative impact on brain health and people shouldn’t be under the impression that only drinking to the point of hospitalisation carries a risk.”
– © The Daily Telegraph