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Dementia risk for binge drinkers

4th November 2008

A report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry has said people in Britain who binge drink could cause a "dementia epidemic" in the future.

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The research by Dr Susham Gupta and Dr James Warner linked heavy consumption of alcohol with "a loss of brain tissue".

Alcohol is thought to cause about 10% of dementia cases and "heavy" consumption is said to contribute to nearly 25%.

They found that the population consumed nearly twice the amount they drank in the 1960s - from under six litres per year to over 11.5 litres - and said less expensive drinks could be a factor.

The researchers said that the cost of alcoholic drinks in relation to the average UK income had been cut by half since the 1960s.

The doctors cautioned that if the trend persisted, people in the UK could be consuming more alcoholic drinks than "any other country in Europe" within a decade.

They wrote: "Given the neurotoxic effects of alcohol and the inexorable increase in per capita consumption, future generations may see a disproportionate increase in alcohol-related dementia."

Heavy consumption of alcohol was associated with high blood pressure, increased amounts of dangerous fat in the blood and brain damage.

The issue was explored in September at a meeting in the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling.

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society said: "Binge drinkers hitting the town on a Saturday night are becoming a familiar sight, but we don't yet understand how it will affect the numbers of people with dementia."

 

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