Not drinking alcohol 'can raise your risk of dementia', study finds

Not drinking alcohol 'can raise your risk of dementia', study finds

But Severine Sabia, who led the study, warned: 'This should not motivate people who do not drink to start drinking due to adverse effects of alcohol on mortality, cirrhosis of the liver and cancer'.

Alcohol consumption trajectories showed similar results, with long term abstainers, those reporting decreased consumption, and long term consumption of more than 14 units a week, all at a higher risk of dementia compared with long term consumption of 1-14 units a week.

Admissions for alcohol related chronic diseases and cases of dementia from 1991, and the role of cardiometabolic disease were then identified from hospital records.

People who enjoy a drink but think about giving up when they hit their mid-life crisis should think again.

They noted that with every increase of seven units per week there was a significant 17 per cent increase in dementia risk.

Scientists examined data on more than 9,000 people, who were aged between 35 and 55 when the study began in the mid-1980s.

Some good news for moderate drinkers: total abstinence from alcohol increases the risk of dementia just as much as swilling the stuff down.

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Of the 9,087 participants, 397 cases of dementia were recorded over an average follow-up period of 23 years, and average age at dementia diagnosis was 76 years, according to the study.

In Britain 14 units of alcohol a week is the recommended maximum for men and women, equivalent to six pints of beer or glasses of wine spread evenly across the week.

The long-term study - which tracked the health of civil servants working in London - found that both groups of people who drank over the recommended limits and also those who have abstained from alcohol entirely were at an increased risk of contracting the disease.

"Future research will need to examine drinking habits across a whole lifetime, and this will help to shed more light on the relationship between alcohol and dementia", Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, told the Science Media Centre. "This study backs what we know, and the temperance movement refuse to accept - that the J shaped curve between alcohol consumption and life expectancy is real".

"Not only does moderate, sensible consumption of alcohol reduce the incidence of dementia compared to teetotallers, there is evidence it also has beneficial effects in guarding against type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke, macular degeneration and many other conditions".

This study is important since it fills gaps in knowledge, "but we should remain cautious and not change current recommendations on alcohol use based exclusively on epidemiological studies", says Sevil Yasar at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in a linked editorial.

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