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Alcohol Consumption and Dementia

Sherry Christiansen
By Sherry ChristiansenNovember 5, 2018

Knowing what factors increase the risk of dementia is important in the battle against the disease. Alcohol consumption is one such factor and a new British Medical Journal (BMJ) study added to the growing body of research into how it can lead to an increased risk of dementia.

Learn more about the study, which discovered that both those who abstained from drinking alcohol altogether and those who ingested too much alcohol were both at a higher risk of developing dementia.

Alcohol Consumption and Dementia Research

Previous studies have reported that both abstinence, moderate and heavy drinking are associated with a risk of dementia, “but the evidence is far from conclusive and the reasons underlying these associations remain unclear,” according to a recent news report.

The most recent alcohol consumption study, published in the BMJ in 2018, revealed that there are several factors linked with alcohol consumption and long-term brain health.

Researchers at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and from the UCL in the UK, examined “Whitewall II Study results,” which involved 9,087 British, aged 35-55. The study looked at how behavior, biology and social factors impacted long-term health and wellness and one of the areas the participants were evaluated in was their use of alcohol over a period of 50 years.

The researchers checked in on the study participants’ alcohol consumption levels and alcohol dependence incidences at regular intervals between 1985-1993. In addition, researchers examined alcohol consumption patterns and the risk of dementia from midlife to elder age. The data was evaluated up to the year 2004.

The research concluded that:

  • Drinking over 14 units of alcohol per week was associated with a higher risk of dementia
  • Study participants who abstained from alcohol had a greater risk of cardiometabolic disease
  • Study participants who were hospitalized for alcohol-related diseases had a four-times higher risk of dementia
  • The average age when dementia was diagnosed was 76-years-old
  • There were 397 cases of dementia recorded of the total number of study participants

The study authors explain that their findings “strengthen the evidence that excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for dementia” and “encourage the use of lower thresholds of alcohol consumption in guidelines to promote cognitive health at older ages.”

Although researchers say that the study reveals that abstinence of alcohol as well as excessive consumption of alcohol both increase the risk of dementia, they also warn that more studies are needed to be able to prove the long-term, cause and effect findings of the study results.

Further studies and a randomized clinical trial are called for, to answer the important questions about the risk of complete long-term abstinence and moderate alcohol consumption on dementia.

Have you found a connection between alcohol consumption and dementia in your, a parent or senior loved one’s life? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.

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Sherry Christiansen

Sherry Christiansen

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