Like all of us, you’ve probably heard that alcohol can destroy brain cells and do long-term permanent damage to the body. But now, there is scientific evidence that takes those findings even further. According to new research, people who drink heavily throughout their lifetime have a much higher risk of contracting Early Onset Dementia.
These latest stats were published in The Guardian and are based on a study that included over million dementia sufferers. Within that grouping, 38 percent of the diagnoses were directly related to alcohol. When the researchers finished their tally, they concluded that heavy drinkers were three times as likely to develop dementia or memory loss than those who abstain.
Previously researchers did have evidence of alcohol’s impact on brain functioning, but they believe this latest study solidifies that fact even more.
“We have long known that alcohol is directly neurotoxic, thiamine deficiency in alcoholics devastates memory, alcohol-related conditions such as cirrhosis and epilepsy can damage the brain and that vascular brain damage is accelerated by alcohol,” University College of London researcher Robert Howard told The Guardian. “Surprisingly, we’ve not traditionally considered alcohol and its misuse as an important risk factor for dementia and we were clearly wrong not to have done so.”
Many of those involved in the study were quick to point out that even moderate drinking can carry severe risks on the brain. Though there wasn’t definitive evidence that “weekend alcoholics” are at risk for dementia, several signals appeared to point in that direction (based on the research).
“Previous research has indicated that even moderate drinking may have a negative impact on brain health and people shouldn’t be under the impression that only drinking to the point of hospitalization carries a risk,” researcher Dr. Sara Imarisio added.
And regardless of the brain damage, Imarisio warned of the numerous other health dangers associated with alcohol.
“Alcohol is a devastating problem, whatever the organ,” she concluded. “Now we can add the brain to the list of liver, kidney and heart… A variety of measures are needed, such as reducing availability, increasing taxation, and banning advertising and marketing of alcohol, alongside early detection and treatment of alcohol use disorders.”
In summary, the researchers felt that education and more available treatment programs were essential to curb future alcohol-related dementia cases. It’s a sad fact, but issues like memory loss and Alzheimer’s Disease do seem to be much more prominent today than in previous generations. And if proper recovery tools can help lessen that number, why not spread the word and give people the long-term health that they deserve?