The idea of early-onset dementia is certainly a scary one. No one wants to think about the possibility of their mental abilities declining — especially before age 65. But according to a February 2018 study, some of these cases of early-onset dementia might actually be preventable.
In the largest study of its kind, published in the Lancet Public Health journal, researchers found that chronic heavy drinking was strongly associated with the development of dementia — especially early-onset dementia. Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia in the study, the majority of them were related to chronic heavy drinking. As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), "chronic drinking" in this context refers to men drinking more than 60 grams of pure alcohol (about 4-5 drinks) on average per day, and women drinking 40 grams (about 3 drinks) per day.
It's so sad that so many people around the world suffer from dementia — and even more upsetting that a sizable amount of folks are diagnosed with the disorder at such a young age. After all, these people deserve to enter and enjoy their golden years just as much as anyone else blessed to live that long! However, the silver lining in the cloud is that researchers say the alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia can be avoided in some cases.
"The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths," said study co-author Jürgen Rehm, PhD in a release. "Alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia are preventable, and known-effective preventive and policy measures can make a dent into premature dementia deaths."
If we had the power to stop all cases of dementia before they started, we'd do it in a heartbeat. But these findings are certainly a promising way to begin the battle.
Next, learn which health trends aren't actually healthy for you in the video below: