Study Says Abstaining from Alcohol in Middle Age Can Increase Risk of Dementia

Researchers found that drinking more than the recommended limits and long-term abstinence led to a heightened risk.
Researchers found that drinking more than the recommended limits and long-term abstinence led to a heightened risk.

Abstinence from alcohol in middle age has been linked to a heightened risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

Both people who drink over the recommended limits and those who are teetotal in midlife are at an increased risk, researchers found.

A new study, published in the British Medical Journal (The BMJ), examined data on more than 9,000 people taking part in the Whitehall II study – which tracked the health of civil servants working in London.

The participants were aged between 35 and 55 when the study began in the mid 1980s.

Alcohol consumption was measured during assessments between 1985 and 1993, when the participants had an average age of 50.

They were followed up for an average of 23 years, with cases of dementia identified through hospital, mental health services, and mortality records. A total of 397 cases of dementia were recorded.

Abstinence in midlife was associated with a 45% higher risk of dementia compared with people who consumed between one and 14 units of alcohol per week.

Long term abstainers and those who reported a decrease in alcohol consumption also appeared to have an increased risk.

The team of French and British researchers suggested that part of the excess risk of dementia in abstainers could be attributable to the greater risk of cardiometabolic disease reported in this group.

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SOURCE: Irish News