Alcohol is a known risk factor for dementia. But is it necessary to regularly drink or be an alcoholic for this disease to develop? Scientists have put forward a plausible hypothesis.
People who get drunk before they lose consciousness are much more likely to suffer from dementia in the future. This is evidenced by a new study published in JAMA network is open...
Alcohol and dementia are closely related
The relationship between alcohol and dementia has long been known and well documented, and alcohol abuse is one of the targets of prevention of this disease. It was previously shown that alcohol leads to atrophy of some parts of the brain, causes inflammation in the central nervous system, and can cause depression and epilepsy. All of these problems can contribute to the development of dementia.
The influence of alcohol can also be indirect. Dementia can occur as a consequence of common alcohol-related diseases: diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease, liver and kidney disease.
Scientists want to know better how dementia is related to the amount of alcohol consumed among ordinary people: who occasionally drink, but are not considered alcoholics. It has already been hypothesized that this risk is dose-dependent: the more you drink, the higher the risk. But these assumptions do not answer all the questions.
Even low drinkers can damage the brain with alcohol
It is no secret that even moderate alcohol consumption can be interspersed with isolated very strong abuses, which are accompanied by a severe reaction from the nervous system, including loss of consciousness. That is, a low-drinker person can periodically get drunk "to hell" and even stronger. The association of these loss of consciousness with dementia has previously been poorly understood.
“Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short time can lead to neurotoxic blood alcohol levels. But rare extreme abuse are not always reflected in the average amount drunk, ”explains a group of scientists led by Professor Mika Kivimaki from University College London.
Against the background of both moderate and high levels of alcohol consumption, episodes of its exceptional toxic effect on the central nervous system can occur. An important sign of such episodes is loss of consciousness.
What scientists have learned
Scientists have collected data from seven studies conducted earlier, they included more than 130 thousand participants. Approximately 96 thousand of them reported that they had a chance to get drunk until they were completely “passed out”, in 10 thousand it happened during the last year.
Loss of consciousness due to alcohol use was associated with a doubling of the risk of developing dementia in later life, regardless of the average level of drinking. When scientists evaluated the performance of people who drink in moderation, they found that the risk of dementia was twice as high for those who drank before they "passed out" over the past year.
When comparing the risk of dementia among moderate to heavy drinkers who drank until they lost consciousness, it turned out that heavy drinkers had this risk 1.2 times higher. Scientists considered moderate drinkers to be people who allow themselves no more than 14 standard servings per week (one standard serving is the equivalent of 10 ml of pure alcohol). At the same time, all those who drank until they lost consciousness doubled the overall risk of dementia, early-onset dementia, late-onset dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. These findings extended to both men and women, young and older participants.