Heavy Drinking could Increase Dementia Risk

Heavy drinking could increase dementia risk of all types, especially early-onset dementia, according to a France research.

A nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal followed over 1 million adults diagnosed with dementia in France hospitals between 2008 and 2013.


Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia, 39% had alcohol-related dementia by definition, and 18% had an additional diagnosis of alcohol use disorders, according to a report from Michaël Schwarzinger, Ph.D., of the Translational Health Economics Network (THEN) in Paris, and colleagues.

During the study, patients with a neurological disease such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s which can also cause dementia were excluded in order to separate the role of alcohol use.

Excessive drinking and alcohol use disorders are one of the most important risk factors for dementia especially for those types of dementia which start before age 65 which cause early deaths.

Study co-author and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research Dr. Jürgen Rehm said that alcohol drinking disorders shorten life expectancy by more than 20 years, and dementia is leading cause of premature death for these people.

Heavy drinking could increase dementia risk and it is also associated with other independent risk factors for dementia such as high blood pressure, depression, hearing loss, tobacco smoking, and lower education.

CAMH Vice-President of Research Dr. Bruce Pollock said, “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.”  “Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care,” Dr. Bruce Pollock added.

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