Posted on Mar 07, 2018, 6 p.m.
Alcohol use disorders are the most preventable and important preventable risk factor for the onset of all types of dementia.
Alcohol use disorders are the most preventable and important preventable risk factor for the onset of all types of dementia, especially in the case of early onset dementia according to a nationwide observational study of more than one million adults diagnosed with dementia, which is the largest study of its kind to find alcohol use to be the biggest risk factor for dementia as published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
This study specifically investigated the effect of alcohol use disorders, including people who had been diagnosed with chronic diseases, behavioural and mental disorders that were attributable to harmful chronic alcohol use. Of the 57,000 cases of early onset dementia 57% were related to chronic heavy alcohol consumption. Chronic heavy drinking is defined as more than 60 grams of pure alcohol on average per day for men, and 40 gram per day for women by the World Health Organization.
A strong association was found in this study between dementia and heavy drinking, suggesting that screening for heavy drinking and treatment for alcohol use disorders should be implemented to reduce the burdens attributed to heavy alcohol in dementia. Alcohol induced brain damage and dementia are in most cases preventable, policy measures can make an impact into premature deaths related to dementia. On average alcohol use disorders shorten life expectancy by upwards of 20 years, with dementia being one of the leading causes of death in those people. In early onset dementia a significant gender split was observed, with the overall majority of dementia patients being women, and nearly ⅔ of all early onset dementia patients being men.
Alcohol use disorders were associated with other independent risk factors for the onset of dementia including diabetes, hearing loss, lower education, tobacco use, and high blood pressure. Suggesting that alcohol use disorders may contribute in other ways to the risks. It was noted that only the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder were included in this study, which could mean that the stigma regarding reporting alcohol use disorders may mean an even stronger association between heavy chronic drinking and dementia.
Materials provided by Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
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Michaël Schwarzinger, Bruce G Pollock, Omer S M Hasan, Carole Dufouil, Prof Jürgen Rehm, QalyDays Study Group. Contribution of alcohol use disorders to the burden of dementia in France 2008–13: a nationwide retrospective cohort study. The Lancet Public Health, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30022-7