In the United States alone, 5.7 million Americans are thought to have Alzheimer’s disease. Experts estimate that by 2050, this number will have reached 14 million. According to recent estimates, almost 50 million people worldwide currently have dementia and this number is expected to double every 2 decades, reaching over 130 million by 2050.
Research has found that dementia has various risk factors such as high blood pressure, lack of sleep and lack of physical exercise. Now research has found alcohol may play a role. A new study followed 9,000 people over a 23-year period to draw conclusions on the link between alcohol consumption and dementia risk.
The researchers assessed their alcohol consumption and potential dependence regularly using standard questionnaires and by looking at alcohol-related hospital admissions.
In the UK anything over 14 standard U.K. alcohol units per week counted as heavy drinking. In the U.K., a standard glass of wine counts as 1 unit of alcohol, and 14 weekly units is the maximum threshold for what is considered harmful drinking.
In the U.S., the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that men should not drink more than two drinks per day and women should not exceed one drink per day.
The average follow-up period for the study was 23 years. During that time, 397 people developed dementia. The researchers team took into account for various sociodemographic factors that may have influenced the results.
The study was published in the BMJ (Britsish Medical Journal) and in an editorial comment, Sevil Yasar, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, weighed in on the findings.
“[A]lcohol consumption of 1-14 units/week may benefit brain health; however, alcohol choices must take into account all associated risks, including liver disease and cancer.”