Doctors already knew factors like smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes made a person more likely to develop dementia. A new study puts alcohol abuse at the top of the list.
Looking at over one million adults from French hospitals found alcohol-use disorders were diagnosed more often in men and women with dementia than those without. Dr. Michael Dolan at Gundersen Health System says the study also found 60 percent of those who develop early-onset dementia, or before the age of 65, had an alcohol use disorder.
The one question the study doesn't answer is why. Dr. Dolan feels it could be due to those abusing alcohol typically lack a balanced diet and develop deficiency of certain nutrients. He says it may be finding out high alcohol levels damage the fragile nerve cells in the brain.
"No question that in a state like ours where heavy drinking is consistently seen in our patients, this is a real concern," Dr. Dolan said.
The study refers to alcohol-use disorders as the chronic harmful use of alcohol or alcohol dependence. The study also pointed to the link between alcohol and dementia was shown stronger for men than it did women.