HealthDay News — A history of alcohol-use disorder is associated with increased odds of severe memory impairment in middle-aged patients, according to research published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Dementia presents major clinical and societal challenges and has enormous public health implications,” wrote Elzbieta Kuzma, PhD, of the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom, and colleagues. Dementia costs the United States between $159 billion and $215 billion in health each year.

To examine the correlation between history of alcohol-use disorder and the onset of severe cognitive and memory impairment, the investigators conducted a survey with 6,542 middle-aged patients, born from 1931 through 1941.

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Patients were assessed at baseline in 1992 and underwent biannual follow-up from 1996 through 2010. The three-item modified CAGE questionnaire was used to assess history of alcohol-use disorder.

Of the patients, 90 participants experienced severe cognitive impairment and 74 experienced severe memory impairment during the follow-up period.

The odds of severe memory impairment were more than doubled among patients with a history of alcohol-use disorders (odds ratio, 2.21; 95% CI: 1.27-3.85; P=0.01). The likelihood of severe cognitive impairment were also increased among patients with a history of alcohol-use disorders, but the correlation was not statistically significant (odds ratio, 1.80; 95% CI: 0.97- 3.33; P=0.06).

“These results reinforce the need to consider the relationship between alcohol consumption and cognition from a multifactorial lifespan perspective,” the researchers concluded.


  1. Kuzma E et al. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2014; doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2014.06.001