Researchers suggest screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking and treatment for alcohol use disorders are needed to reduce the alcohol-attributable burden of dementia.
by Jill Margo 21/2/2018
If you are drinking your troubles away, you soon may not be able to remember them at all.
A nationwide French study has just shown chronic heavy drinking is an especially potent risk factor for developing dementia before the age of 65.
And for those who have made it past 65, the sobering results show chronic heavy drinking is also a big risk factor for all kinds of dementia and that the risk is much higher than previously thought.
The French study suggests heavy drinking leads to permanent structural and functional brain damage. Andrzej Wojcicki
This latest study suggests heavy drinking leads to permanent structural and functional brain damage.
Published in The Lancet Public Health journal, it involved more than a million adults diagnosed with dementia between 2008 and 2013.
The authors say heavy drinking also increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, atrial fibrillation and heart failure, which may in turn increase the risk of vascular dementia.
It is also associated with tobacco smoking, depression, and low educational attainment, which are also risk factors for dementia.
Drink and dementia has an eroding force, and the risk of chronic heavy drinking appears to be much higher than previously thought. Stuart Hay
'This evidence is robust'
This study "is immensely important", says Professor Clive Ballard from the University of Exeter Medical School in Britain, in a linked comment in the same journal.
"In our view, this evidence is robust and we should move forward with clear public health messages about the relationship between both alcohol use disorders and alcohol consumption, respectively, and dementia."
The World Health Organisation defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more than 60 grams of pure alcohol a day for men, which is equivalent to six or more standard Australian drinks a day.
A 30 millilitre nip of spirits is one standard drink, as is 100 millilitres of red wine.
For women, heavy drinking is four or more standard drinks a day.
The study looked specifically at the effect of alcohol disorders. This included people with mental and behavioural disorders or chronic diseases attributable to chronic harmful use of alcohol.
Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before 65), the majority were either alcohol-related by definition or had an additional diagnosis of alcohol use disorders.
The middle-class trend of “wine o’clock” is increasing the rate of heart problems, liver disease and even alcohol-induced dementia.
And doctors warn people who enjoy a “few glasses” of wine at home each evening could be suffering from a form of chronic alcoholism.
While most responsible drinking advertising targets young people, there is also a growing concern about people in their 50s and 60s binge drinking. A glass or two ... or several more.
NSW Health data reveals 27.3 per cent of people aged 55-64 consume alcohol at levels that pose a long-term risk to their health.
While a few glasses of wine with dinner might be seen as “culturally sophisticated”, Australian Medical Association NSW president Dr Brad Frankum said there was a lack of awareness about the danger of home drinking.
“They don’t associate binge drinking with the cultured act of a glass of wine at night.
“But the evidence is clear that daily drinking increases risk of pancreatitis (and) liver disease and it contributes to obesity and weight problems, which cause a range of cardiovascular issues.”
Parents who give their children alcohol increase the risk that they will binge drink in their teenage years, an Australian study has found.
There is no evidence to support the view that parents who give their children alcohol are reducing the risk of binge drinking or alcohol-related harms in their teenage years, found the study involving just under 2000 adolescents between 12 and 18 years old.
There is no evidence to support the view that parents who give their children alcohol are reducing the risk of binge drinking or alcohol-related harms in their teenage years.
Teenagers whose parents allow them to drink are twice as likely to access alcohol through other sources and engage in binge drinking, the researchers reported on Friday in Lancet Public Health.
Teenagers given alcohol by their parents were 95 per cent more likely to binge drink – more than four standard drinks in one sitting – in the future than those who had found another way to score a drink.
"This reinforces the fact that alcohol consumption leads to harm, no matter how it is supplied," said lead author Professor Richard Mattick, a drug and alcohol dependency and behaviour expert at UNSW. "We advise that parents should avoid supplying alcohol to their teenagers if they wish to reduce their risk of alcohol-related harms."
Today's teenagers are turning their backs on Australia's excessive drinking culture, and shunning other drugs, in a change that has been dubbed a modern "youth revolution".
A study involving more than 41,000 Australian adolescents (average age 13.5) has observed a staggering drop in rates of teen alcohol consumption and smoking since 1999
At the turn of the century, almost 70 per cent of surveyed teenagers had already drunk alcohol. By 2015, that figure that dropped to 45 per cent, meaning high school students abstaining from alcohol are now in the majority.
An author of the study, Professor John Toumbourou, said while the adult population were also showing signs of moderating their alcohol consumption, it did not compare to the sharp trend within the secondary school population.
"They are making changes that are much more dramatic to other age groups," said Professor Toumbourou, chair in health psychology at Deakin University.
"It's a new, youth-led revolution."
This Blue Monday new Drinkaware research shows that a large proportion of people who drink alcohol do so to forget their problems, cheer themselves up when in a bad mood and because it helps when they feel depressed or nervous. New research reveals that almost three in five (58%) of all people (aged 18-75) who drink alcohol are doing so because it helps them to cope with the pressures of day to day life.
The data also reveals that this trend is roughly equal for both men and women and is seen across all age ranges to varying degrees. However, people in lower social grades, who are more likely to be experiencing financial and housing worries, are drinking to forget their problems or when they are depressed or nervous, at a significantly higher rate.