Slashing alcohol intake 'could curb your risk by up to a third'

Researchers found that of the 57,000 cases of early onset dementia, 38.9 percent were alcohol-related by definition and 17.6 percent had additional diagnosis of alcohol use disorders.

It added that chronic drinking could lead to "permanent structural and functional brain damage".

The study used data from the French National Hospital Discharge database, which holds details on all hospital admissions, including patient demographics, reasons for hospital stay, and treatments received. While the majority of dementia patients were women, nearly two-third of all early-onset dementia patients were men (about 65 per cent).

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

According to the findings, alcohol use disorders were also associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset.

Dr Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "This suggests alcohol-abuse disorders may be responsible for more cases of early-onset dementia than previously thought".

Due to the ongoing stigma regarding the reporting of alcohol-use disorders, the association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia may be even stronger. "Therefore, it is somewhat unsurprising that early-onset dementia identifies a cluster of men with alcohol use disorders".

As a result of the strong association found in this study, the authors recommended the implementation of screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders to lower the alcohol-attributable burden of dementia.

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To determine how alcohol use disorders effect dementia risk, especially among those aged younger than 65 years, researchers conducted a nationwide retrospective cohort of hospitalized adults in France discharged with alcohol-related brain damage, vascular dementia or other dementias between 2008 and 2013.

"We should certainly avoid heavy consumption of alcohol as it puts your mental and physical health at risk and it increases your risk of injury", says Prof Woodward.

Response: Future studies are clearly needed to clarify the alcohol threshold where people significantly become at higher risk for dementia.

However, other studies have already discovered that higher amount of alcohol consumption may develop major risk of brain damage and some others have shown that the moderate or light consumption of alcohol provides a potential benefit for cognitive health. Alcohol use disorder was the primary exposure, and dementia was the main outcome.

But several issues need to be addressed, noted Clive Ballard, MD, and Iain Lang, DPhil, of the University of Exeter Medical School in England, in an accompanying editorial.

Schwarzinger said the information collected showed that once the brain was affected by alcohol consumption, there was no way of repairing the damage.

Alcohol is now the sixth most common cause of disability among people in their 50s and 60s, up from 16th in 1990. But the latest study emphasizes that escalating to heavy drinking habits can have detrimental consequences.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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