Binge Drinking in Midlife and Dementia Risk

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Background:Studies examining the long-term effects of alcohol consumption on cognitive functioning have produced conflicting results. Our goal was to determine whether a long follow-up period combined with information about drinking patterns, in addition to total alcohol consumption, would provide new insights about the relationship of alcohol use with dementia risk.Methods:A population-based cohort of 554 Finnish twins, who had provided data on alcohol consumption in questionnaires in 1975 and 1981, was followed for 25 years. Subjects were age 65 years or older at the time of dementia assessment in 1999–2001. Dementia risk was analyzed with respect to varying patterns of alcohol use by log-linear modeling, adjusted for age, sex, and education.Results:By the end of follow-up, 103 participants had developed dementia. Binge drinking (ie, alcohol exceeding the amount of 5 bottles of beer or a bottle of wine on 1 occasion at least monthly), as reported in 1975, was associated with a relative risk of 3.2 (95% confidence interval = 1.2–8.6) for dementia. Passing out at least twice as a result of excessive alcohol use during the previous year, as reported in 1981, was associated with a relative risk of 10.5 (2.4–46) for dementia in drinkers.Conclusions:Binge drinking in midlife is associated with an increased risk of dementia.

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