Teetotalers at as much risk of dementia as excessive drinkers

Leslie Hanson
August 4, 2018

However, the study says people who drink above the recommended alcohol limit of 14 units per week are also at an increased risk of developing dementia.

They were followed up for an average of 23 years, with cases of dementia identified through hospital records.

Researchers from French national institute of health and medical research (INSERM) and UCL investigated the association between midlife alcohol consumption and risk of dementia into early old age.

"People who completely abstain from alcohol may have a history of heavy drinking and this can make it hard to interpret the links between drinking and health".

Giving up alcohol in middle age may increase your risk of getting dementia, according to a new study.

In abstainers, the researchers show that some of the excess dementia risk was due to a greater risk of cardiometabolic disease.

"The next steps should include confirmation of findings in other long term cohort studies and ideally a randomised clinical trial, to answer pressing questions about the possible protective effects of light to moderate alcohol use on risk of dementia and the mediating role of cardiovascular disease".

Scientists found those who were teetotal in mid-life were 47 percent more likely to develop the brain-wasting condition.


Perhaps the most important contribution of the recently published research, however, was the discovery that doing the exact opposite of excessive drinking - abstinence from alcohol consumption in middle-age - is a factor for developing the illness as well.

The risk of development of dementia was observed in those who drank more than 14 units of alcohol per week by 17% and increased with each of the seven units of alcohol.

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.

A total of almost 400 dementia cases - with onset occurring, on average, at age 76 - were reported.

Government guidelines say men and women should drink no more than 14 units a week - equal to six pints of beer or glasses of wine.

Previous studies indicate that moderate drinking is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, whereas both abstinence and heavy drinking are associated with a risk of dementia.

'The study tells us little about how drinking above low risk guidance beyond the of age of 55 affects the development of dementia.

The authors say while the study is important to fill gaps in knowledge, "we should remain cautious and not change current recommendations on alcohol use based exclusively on epidemiological studies".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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