Teetotallers, like big drinkers, more prone to dementia, says study

Going teetotal was associated with an increased risk of dementia

The chances of losing your marbles are higher for those that didn't drink a drop of alcohol compared to people who consume about 1-14 units of booze per week.

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

So a team of researchers from Inserm (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) based in France and from UCL in the United Kingdom set out to investigate the association between midlife alcohol consumption and risk of dementia into early old age.

The researchers are also careful to say these findings "should not motivate people who do not drink to start drinking" given the detrimental effects alcohol consumption can have on other parts of your health, such as liver disease and cancer.

Worldwide, about seven per cent of people over 65 suffer from some form of dementia, a percentage that rises to 40 per cent above the age of 85.

In abstainers, the researchers show that some of the excess dementia risk was due to a greater risk of cardiometabolic disease. Long term abstainers and those who reported a decrease in alcohol consumption also appeared to have an increased risk.

Whether you drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week or totally abstain from it during middle age, you could probably at increased risk of developing dementia, according to a study released Thursday by the University College London (UCL).

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A total of 397 cases of dementia were recorded over the 23 years in which the study took place.

Commenting on the study, Dr Sara Imarisio, of Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "As this study only looked at people's drinking in midlife, we don't know about their drinking habits earlier in adulthood and it is possible that this may contribute to their later life dementia risk". In fact, researchers found those who abstain from alcohol are 45 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who drink about half a bottle of wine per week.

She added: 'Current alcohol guidelines recommend not regularly drinking more than 14 units a week for both men and women, and drinking over this amount impacts on a number of health conditions, not only dementia.

"We know a healthy lifestyle can improve health and reduce dementia risk, and a good motto tends to be, what is good for your heart is good for your brain".

Previous studies indicate that moderate drinking is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, whereas both abstinence and heavy drinking are associated with a risk of dementia.

History of hospital admission for alcohol related chronic diseases was associated with a four times higher risk of dementia.

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