HealthDay News — Abstinence in midlife and consumption of more than 14 units of alcohol per week are associated with increased risk of dementia, according to a study published online Aug. 1 in The BMJ.

Séverine Sabia, PhD, from the Université Paris-Saclay, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 9087 participants aged 35 to 55 years at study inception. Participants were followed for a mean of 23 years for incident dementia.

During follow-up, the researchers identified 397 cases of dementia. The risk of dementia was higher with abstinence in midlife (hazard ratio, 1.47) compared with consumption of one to 14 units per week. Among those drinking more than 14 units/week, there was a 17% increase in dementia risk with a seven-unit increase in alcohol consumption. Increased dementia risk was also seen with CAGE score >2 and alcohol-related hospital admission (hazard ratios, 2.19 and 4.28, respectively). Compared with long-term consumption of one to 14 units per week, there was an association for increased risk of dementia with alcohol consumption trajectories from midlife to early old age of long-term abstinence, decrease in consumption, and long-term consumption above 14 units per week (hazard ratios, 1.74, 1.55, and 1.40, respectively). The excess risk of dementia associated with abstinence was partly explained by cardiometabolic disease over follow-up.

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“The risk of dementia was increased in people who abstained from alcohol in midlife or consumed >14 units/week,” the authors write.

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