A study conducted in France found that the risk of developing early onset dementia was much higher for those who consumed excessive amounts of alcohol. The study looked at over a million individuals who were hospitalized in France from 2008 to 2013 who had a dementia diagnosis. Of these individuals, 16.5% of men and 4% of women had also been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. Many studies over the years have found this correlation, but what makes this one different is the association with early-onset dementia. The research suggests multiple ways in which alcohol may lead to dementia. Ethanol and its by-product acetaldehyde have a toxic effect on the brain that can cause long-term brain damage. Additionally, with liver damage there is an increased amount of ammonia in the blood, which causes a loss of brain function. Heavy drinking is also often associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which are risk factors for dementia. Lastly, social factors may play a part, those who are heavy drinkers are more likely to be less educated, smoke, or experience depression, increasing their risk for dementia. More research needs to be done to determine if this is a definitive cause and effect. Research that looks at a broader population of people living with dementia (i.e. different countries, different stages of the disease and different living conditions) will reduce potential confounders and biases.
SOURCE: CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/20/health/alcohol-disorder-dementia-risk-study/index.html
DATE RETRIEVED: February 22, 2018