Medicine

Teetotalers, like big drinkers, more prone to dementia

Teetotalers, like big drinkers, more prone to dementia

Perhaps the most important contribution of the recently published research, however, was the discovery that doing the exact opposite of excessive drinking - abstinence from alcohol consumption in middle-age - is a factor for developing the illness as well.

Presenting its findings the researchers stated: "Given the number of people living with dementia is expected to triple by 2050 and the absence of a cure, prevention is key".

'People with a history of heavy drinking who abstain for health reasons and those who under-report their drinking also makes it hard to draw any firm conclusions'.

Not drinking in middle age can increase the risk of dementia as much as drinking too much, according to a report.

Yasar said the findings raised the question of "a possible protective effect from moderate alcohol consumption" that was further supported by findings of an increased risk of dementia "observed only in those who abstained from wine".

A study, entitled Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Dementia, was posted recently in the British Medical Journal - investigating the association between alcohol consumption and risk of dementia on 10,308 participants (6,895 men and 3,413 women) between the ages of 35 and 55.

Participants were assessed at regular intervals between 1985 and 1993 on their alcohol consumption and alcohol dependence.

Scientists have determined that those who fully refuse alcohol increases the risk of dementia - brain damage leading to dementia in varying degrees.

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Moreover, the study showed that "excess risk of dementia in abstainers was attributable to the greater risk of cardiometabolic disease" for middle-aged non-drinkers.

'These results suggest that abstention and excessive alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of dementia, although the underlying mechanisms are likely to be different in the two groups, ' the authors wrote.

She said: "People who completely abstain from alcohol may have a history of heavy drinking and this can make it hard to interpret the links between drinking and health".

A total of almost 400 dementia cases - with onset occurring, on average, at age 76 - were reported.

Guidance from the United Kingdom chief medical officer states that men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week - the equivalent of around six pints of beer.

Chronic heavy drinking has been clearly established as a major risk factor for all types of dementia, especially the early onset of the disease.

In the case of wine, earlier studies have suggested that so-called polyphenolic compounds may offer some protection to neural networks and blood vessels, but such findings remain controversial.