New Study shows that both abstinence and excess consumption of alcohol increase risk of Dementia


Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have become quite a common phenomenon in current date, primarily because of the higher risks imposed by the kind of stressful lifestyle that we lead on a day to basis. That being said, a new study has confirmed that not just frequent drinking of alcohol but even the persistent abstinence of the same can be a contributing factor to the increasing risks associated with Dementia.

The new study (R) conducted by a group of researchers from the Inserm (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) based in France and from UCL in the UK suggest that not just people who consume more than 14 units of alcohol in a week in their midlife but also people who have never consumed alcohol or have abstained themselves from the consumption are in dire risk of developing Dementia in their later life.

The only striking thing about the same is the fact that the mechanism of action concerning the development of the disease is going to be a lot different in both the groups – the one who drinks vigorously and the one which doesn’t. Statistics have suggested that the rate of dementia is expected to triple by the year if 2050 which is why studying and understanding the concerns associated with the consumption of alcohol on ageing patterns is beneficial.

If previous studies are anything to abide by, it has been stated previously that while moderate drinking can actually be beneficial in reducing the risks associated with Dementia, excess or limited drinking can actually cause the complete opposite effects. The only downside to this is the fact that the result why the same actually happens is very inconclusive.

The new study, conducted by a group of experienced research, was mainly done to find the connection between the excess midlife alcohol consumption with the associated risks of Dementia in the early stages of old age. The study also ventures to establish the connection between the cardiometabolic diseases like stroke, diabetes and other forms of heart disease with the possible risks of dementia.

The entirety of the study is based upon the findings associated with a total of 9,087 British civil servants in between the age of 35 and 55 in the year of 1985 who were also part of the then ongoing Whitehall II Study which focused around the assessment of the impact of social, behavioural as well biological factors on the overall long term health of the subjects.

For the new published study, these British civil servants were checked for their alcohol consumption as well as alcohol dependence in between the years of 1985 – 1993. With that, the alcohol consumption trajectories were also examined till the year of 2004 to assess the link between the long term alcohol consumption with the crisis concerning the risks of dementia.

Upon the observations over the course of 23 years, it was found that out of the 9,087 participants in the study, 397 of them were diagnosed with Dementia in their later life, the average age being that of 76 years.

With the results, the researchers were adamant on sourcing the root cause and the mode of action behind the same. They took account of every aspect of sociodemographic, lifestyle as well as health factors that could be a potential factor behind the same. They found that the excess midlife alcohol consumption surpassing the levels of 14 units a week or the ones who abstain from drinking alcohol are on the higher risks of developing Dementia in the later part of their lives.

Now, while the risks of alcohol consumption with Dementia was easily explainable, the same when it came to how abstaining from alcohol was a reason behind Dementia was what left the researchers intrigued. Apparently, the lack of alcohol and higher risks of Dementia is possibly because of the higher rate of cardiometabolic diseases.

While the base ground about the results are more or less concrete, the researchers have suggested that the study is an observational study which is why it is hard to draw steady conclusions concerning the cause and effect. They have stated the possibility that they can’t completely rule out the possibility concerning an underlying confounding factor to be one of the reason behind the drawn preliminary results.

The researchers of this new study have emphasized on the fact that this is potential evidence which solidifies the association of excess alcohol consumption with the higher risks of dementia. Not just that, it is also a significant evidence for the fact that consumption of alcohol in lower thresholds in old age is actually a beneficial factor concerning the improvement of cognitive abilities. As a statutory warning, the researchers have even clearly specified to not use this study as a holy grail for the non-drinkers to start any form of heavy drinking, given the fact that the same tend to impact negative implications on the overall health of an individual.

Sevil Yasar at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who is an associated linked editorial stated that it is necessary for people to be very cautious about the facet of alcohol consumption and follow as per the level of recommendation and cross the same. She has further stated that this needs further study to draw accurate and final results. She has also requested for a government funded randomized clinical trial to source the necessary answers to the lingering questions regarding the situation.

Yasar has finally concluded saying that while the consumption of 1-14 units of alcohol a week may actually boost cognitive functions and keep the possibilities of dementia at bay, the choices should always be made with a rational approach while keeping every aspect of health into account.