The study's authors saw that of the 57,000 patients with early-onset dementia, nearly a quarter of all cases were alcohol-related while 18 per cent of people had an additional diagnosis of "alcohol use disorder".
Dr Schwarzinger added: "Our findings suggest that the burden of dementia attributable to alcohol use disorders is much larger than previously thought, suggesting that heavy drinking should be recognised as a major risk factor for all types of dementia".
Furthermore, chronic heavy drinking was also linked to all other independent risk factors for dementia onset, including tobacco smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, lower education, depression and hearing loss.
Researchers describe alcohol use disorders as the chronic harmful use of alcohol or alcohol dependence.
Most cases of Alzheimer's disease, the most important cause of dementia, happen after the age of 65 and rise dramatically as people age. Alcohol use disorders remained associated with an increased risk for vascular and other dementias even after excluding alcohol-related brain damage, according to the findings.
Results of the study also showed that men and women experienced dementia differently.
"This is a worthwhile study but it does not prove that dementia has been caused by people drinking alcohol or that people who now drink alcohol will develop dementia". For example, alcohol use increases the risk for hypertension, and it leads to liver damage, among other things.
'We've known for a while that heavy drinking can increase your risk of developing dementia.
Because dementia can have long diagnosis delays and associations can be confounded by reverse causation, they analyzed risk factors for dementia onset among patients admitted to hospitals from 2011 to 2013 who had no record of dementia from 2008 to 2010.
"Given the strength of the association, what is the most surprising to me is that alcohol-use disorders had received so little interest in dementia research and public health policies", Schwarzinger said.
There are lots of reasons why drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis is not a good idea.
"This large study provides further evidence that heavy drinking is associated with a greatly elevated risk of cognitive impairment, and that this can occur at a relatively young age", observed Killian Welch, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the study. Incidents of women with dementia are lower than males up to 80 years old. Also, alcohol use disorders may have been underreported, especially when compared with prevalence estimates of 16.7% for men and 5.4% for women in France. "The study just shows that you are more likely to be in hospital with a diagnosis of dementia if you drink more heavily". Ballard reports grants and personal fees from Acadia and Lundbeck.
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