Study suggests heavy drinking link to higher dementia risk

A study published in the Lancet Public Health has suggested that alcohol abuse addiction disorders are a major risk factor for dementia, specifically early onset dementia.

The research from the Translational Health Economics Network in France studied 57,000 people with early-onset dementia in a database of hospital admissions. The research found that 39% of these people had dementia that was directly caused by an alcohol abuse disorder and a further 18% had a diagnosis of alcohol addiction alongside that of dementia.

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said that more research was needed to understand how much of a link there was.

“We’ve known for a while that heavy drinking can increase your risk of developing dementia. This study suggests that alcohol abuse disorders may be responsible for more cases of early-onset dementia than previously thought. But because this study only looked at hospital admissions, and was based in France, we would need further research in other healthcare settings and countries to fully understand how many cases of early-onset dementia are caused by alcohol abuse.”

He added that the study hadn’t established a causal link between moderate alcohol consumption and dementia and urged people to follow the Government’s guidelines on drinking alcohol.

“This study in no way suggests that moderate alcohol intake could cause early-onset dementia. The study doesn’t change the advice to stick to no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. Anyone concerned about heavy drinking should visit their GP to discuss ways of cutting down and the support on offer.”