Excessive alcohol consumption is the most prevalent risk factor for developing dementia claimed a recent French based study, published in the The Lancet Public Health journal. The nationwide observational study said that over one million adults were diagnosed with dementia in France.
For the study, the researchers studied the effect of alcohol use disorders. They looked into cases where individuals had been diagnosed with mental and behavioral disorders or chronic diseases that were attributable to chronic harmful use of alcohol. The findings showed that chronic heavy drinking can severely affect brain. Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before the age of 65), the majority (57%) were related to chronic heavy drinking.
"Alcohol use disorders were a major risk factor for onset of all types of dementia, and especially early-onset dementia. Thus, screening for heavy drinking should be part of regular medical care, with intervention or treatment being offered when necessary. Additionally, other alcohol policies should be considered to reduce heavy drinking in the general population", read the study published online.
Heavy drinking and its association with dementia is not a new discovery, several studies have pointed out the link. However this was perhaps one of the largest study to claim that there is indeed a link and steps must be taken to moderate, especially for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,
According to researchers, alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia could be prevented to great extent if apt policies come into place. Alcohol use disorders shorten life expectancy by more than 20 years.
While the overall majority of dementia patients were women, almost two-thirds of all early-onset dementia patients (64.9%) were men.
Alcohol use disorders were also associated with tobacco smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, lower education, depression, and hearing loss, all of these account as modifiable risk factors. Unfortunately most of the alcohol treatment interventions take place, omly when it is too late to improve cognition.
Only the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder - ones involving hospitalization - were included in the study.