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Abstinence in middle age found to increase dementia risk by 45%
04 August 2018, 08:25 | Silvia Roy
Thomas Northcut—Getty Images
The subjects were then monitored for a further 23 years after which almost 400 cases of dementia were identified.
Participants were assessed at regular intervals between 1985 and 1993 on their alcohol consumption and alcohol dependence.
Abstinence from alcohol in middle age has been linked to a heightened risk of dementia, a new study suggests.
The researchers are also careful to say these findings "should not motivate people who do not drink to start drinking" given the detrimental effects alcohol consumption can have on other parts of your health, such as liver disease and cancer.
Giving up alcohol in middle age may increase your risk of getting dementia, according to a new study.
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"Some of the excess risk of dementia in abstainers was explained by greater risk of cardiometric disease", such as stroke, coronary heart disease and diabetes, Sabia and her team concluded.
Yasar said the findings raised the question of "a possible protective effect from moderate alcohol consumption" that was further supported by findings of an increased risk of dementia "observed only in those who abstained from wine".
The study of 9,000 civil servants found that those that were teetotal had a 45% higher chance of developing the disease when compared with those that drank between one and 14 units of alcohol a week. "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".
Among excessive drinkers - those who consumed more than 14 units per week - experts found a heightened risk of dementia which increased the more a person drank - they noted that with every 7-unit/week increase there was a significant 17% increase in dementia risk.
In Britain, 14 units of alcohol a week is now the recommended maximum limit for both men and women, but many countries still use a much higher threshold to define harmful drinking.
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Previous studies indicate that moderate drinking is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, whereas both abstinence and heavy drinking are associated with a risk of dementia.
They were then monitored for, on average, another 23 years.
'The study tells us little about how drinking above low risk guidance beyond the of age of 55 affects the development of dementia.
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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