A study published in the Lancet Public Health journal last week said heavy boozing is a “major factor” in all forms of the incurable illness, after observing more than a million adults diagnosed with dementia in France.
Looking specifically at 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia as part of the study, they found the majority – 57 percent – were related to chronic heavy drinking.
But the authors have warned they were only able to include the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder – those that involved hospitalisation – in the study.
They added this could mean the association between heavy drinking and dementia may be even stronger.
CAMH Vice-President of Research Dr. Bruce Pollock said: “As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition.
“Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care.”
Study co-author and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Dr Jürgen Rehm, went on to claim preventative measures could help tackle dementia.
He said: “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.
“Alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia are preventable, and known-effective preventive and policy measures can make a dent into premature dementia deaths.”
It follows a study by researchers at Oxford and Cardiff, who found drinking just three and a half glasses of wine a week is enough to raise the risk of dementia.
A study of more than 13,000 adults is the largest of its kind to show the link between even low levels of alcohol intake and damage to the brain.
Both men and women who drank just over one unit of alcohol a day suffered a decline in brain function over four years.
One unit of alcohol equates to one measure of spirits, half a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer.
Researchers are calling for a “discussion” over whether Government guidelines of 14 unites a week should be lowered for older adults.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists are set to publish a review into the harm drinking causes to over-60s. It will be released next Wednesday.
Authors believe 14 units a week is an “unsafe” level for many older adults because of the increased risk of dementia and other illnesses, according to the Daily Mail.
Professor Simon Moore of Cardiff University said: “We’re drinking ourselves to stupidity. If you want to remain healthy in your later years you should really minimise how much you drink.
“If you’re planning on drinking more than ten grams a day (1.25 units) you’re increasing your risk of dementia. If, for example, last week you were drinking on average ten grams of alcohol a day, about a bottle of prosecco that week, but then next week you increase that to two bottles of prosecco, you’re putting yourself at significant risk.”