Both Abstinence and High Alcohol Use Linked to Dementia

Increased dementia risk for those with abstinence or with drinking >14 units alcohol/week in midlife.
Increased dementia risk for those with abstinence or with drinking >14 units alcohol/week in midlife.

HealthDay News — Abstinence in midlife and consumption of more than 14 units of alcohol per week are associated with increased risk of dementia, according to a study published online August 1 in The BMJ.

Séverine Sabia, PhD, from the Université Paris-Saclay, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 9,087 participants aged 35 to 55 years at study inception. Participants were followed for a mean of 23 years for incident dementia. 

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During follow-up, the researchers identified 397 cases of dementia. The risk of dementia was higher with abstinence in midlife (hazard ratio, 1.47) compared with consumption of 1 to 14 units per week. Among those drinking more than 14 units/week, there was a 17% increase in dementia risk with a 7-unit increase in alcohol consumption. Increased dementia risk was also seen with CAGE score >2 and alcohol-related hospital admission (hazard ratios, 2.19 and 4.28, respectively). Compared with long-term consumption of 1 to 14 units per week, there was an association for increased risk of dementia with alcohol consumption trajectories from midlife to early old age of long-term abstinence, decrease in consumption, and long-term consumption above 14 units per week (hazard ratios, 1.74, 1.55, and 1.40, respectively). The excess risk of dementia associated with abstinence was partly explained by cardiometabolic disease over follow-up.

"The risk of dementia was increased in people who abstained from alcohol in midlife or consumed >14 units/week," the authors write.

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