Heavy drinking has never been associated with good health, but a new study shows it may also be associated with a higher risk for developing dementia.
Heavy drinking is defined as consuming, on average, four to five standard drinks per day for men and approximately three drinks per day for women, according to The World Health Organization (WHO).
Researchers at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, studied the association between alcohol use disorders and the development of all types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, examining more than one million cases of diagnosed dementia among adults over the age of 20 in France between 2008 and 2013. The researchers found that chronic harmful use of alcohol was the biggest preventable risk factor for the development of dementia.
The study found that nearly two thirds (64.9 per cent) of all early-onset dementia patients were men.
Dr. Rehm, the study’s co-author and the director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research said that alcohol use disorders can also shorten life expectancy by more than 20 years and that dementia is one of the leading causes of death for these patients.
The researchers also explored the association between heavy drinking and other dementia risks, such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, lower education, depression, and hearing loss. They discovered that harmful alcohol use contributed to these other “modifiable” factors as well.
In light of their findings, the researchers recommend the introduction of screening, brief interventions and treatment for alcohol use disorders to reduce its impact on dementia.
The findings have been published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
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