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Excessive Drinking Linked to Early-Onset Dementia

Dementia affects 5-7% of people aged 60 years and older, and is a leading cause of disability. A recent study suggests that alcohol abuse may be one of the biggest preventable risk factors for dementia.


Participants in the study included 31,624,156 adults discharged from French hospitals between 2008 and 2013. Of that population, 1,109,343 were diagnosed with dementia and were included in the analyses. Another subset of approximately 57,000 people had early-onset dementia, which is defined as dementia that occurs before age 65.


When the researchers looked at the early-onset dementia group, they found that 57% of the cases were related to chronic heavy drinking. The World Health Organization defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more than 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men (4-5 Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams (3 standard drinks) per day for women. The researchers also found that while the majority of people with dementia were women, 64.9% of early-onset dementia cases were men.


Researchers from Sorbonne Paris Cité led the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 20, 2018, in Lancet Public Health.


Excessive alcohol consumption has also been associated with liver disease, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal problems, issues with the immune system, brain damage, and vitamin deficiency.

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