Dementia link to brain damage due to excess alcohol


A new and largest study of its kind has found that heavy alcohol use could increase one's risk for all types of dementia, and especially for the early-onset of dementia before 65 years of age.

He said that this area needs more research but suggested that the link between heavy alcohol use and dementia is "likely a result of alcohol leading to permanent structural and functional brain damage".

In total, 1,109,343 adults discharged from hospital in France were diagnosed with dementia and included in the study.

Note that the prevalence increased in patients with early-onset dementia: 38.9 of early-onset cases were associated with alcohol-related brain damage and 17.6% were associated with other alcohol use disorders.

The French researchers analysed hospital records, meaning patients had to have been diagnosed with an alcohol problem to have been defined as chronic drinkers.

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.

The study identified 57,353 people who had cases of early-onset dementia (before age 65).

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Due to the ongoing stigma regarding the reporting of alcohol-use disorders, the association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia may be even stronger. "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".

Researchers suggest that screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders should be implemented to reduce the alcohol-attributable burden of dementia.

Rehm noted alcohol use disorders shorten life expectancy by more than 20 years, and the authors wrote in the study that "alcohol use disorders should be recognized as a major risk factor for all types of dementia".

Those who are at risk of dementia are people consuming more than a couple of alcoholic drinks a day. For example, alcohol use increases the risk for hypertension, and it leads to liver damage, among other things.

According to the US National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol use disorder or AUD is the term used to describe a chronic relapsing brain disease characterised by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.

"Lastly, heavy drinking clusters (in) people with less education, smoking habits, and/or depression". For men, the limit is 7.5 units a day or about three pints of beer, while for women it is five units a day or four small glasses of wine. "There could be a gender effect on who goes to the hospital with dementia". Among all men with dementia, the prevalence of alcohol use disorders climbed to 16.5%.

But Schwarzinger cautioned that people outside France should still take the findings seriously: "While the rate of alcohol use disorders is lower in the United States of America, it remains substantial enough to be considered major risk factor for dementia onset".