Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Named the risk of failure from alcohol

Named the risk of failure from alcohol

A study, entitled Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Dementia, was posted recently in the British Medical Journal - investigating the association between alcohol consumption and risk of dementia on 10,308 participants (6,895 men and 3,413 women) between the ages of 35 and 55.

A NEW STUDY has shown that not drinking alcohol in middle age could increase the risk of developing dementia.

At the end of the study, after a mean follow-up period of 23 years, there were 397 cases of dementia.

The researchers found that abstinence in midlife or drinking more than 14 units a week was associated with a higher risk of dementia compared with drinking one to 14 units of alcohol a week, said Severine Sabia from UCL and INSERM.

In an accompanying BMJ editorial commentary Sevil Yasar, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States, said the study contained a number of significant findings.

With people who drank more than 14 units a week the dementia risk increased by 17% with every additional seven units per week.

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


"These results suggest that abstention and excessive alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of dementia, although the underlying mechanisms are likely to be different in the two groups", the research concluded.

In the United Kingdom, 14 units of alcohol a week is now the recommended maximum limit for both men and women, but many countries still use a much higher threshold to define harmful drinking.

What is slightly odd, however, is that the higher risk of dementia for people who abstained from alcohol was only apparent if they didn't drink wine.

Dr Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer's Reearch UK, said that the study failed to take into account the persons drinking habits earlier in life. In fact, researchers found those who abstain from alcohol are 45 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who drink about half a bottle of wine per week.

"A good motto tends to be, what is good for your heart is good for your brain".

'Not smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet, staying mentally and physically active and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check are all ways to support healthy brain ageing'. While this study does throw up questions about alcohol and dementia, there could be other risk factors at play.

Dr Rao added that there were also other lifestyle factors that could affect the development of dementia and make it hard to draw any meaningful conclusions.

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