Alcohol is greatest factor in onset of early dementia

30 August 2013

A study by researchers at Umeå University in Sweden has found that the risk factor most strongly linked to the development of early dementia is alcohol poisoning, which increased the risk of dementia almost five times.

The study covered nearly 500,000 men conscripted for military service from 1969 to 1980. During a follow-up period of 37 years 487 men suffered early dementia, and were diagnosed at an average of 54 years old. So-called young-onset dementia (YOD) or early dementia is a form of dementia that affects people before the age of 65.

The study found nine factors that can increase the risk of developing dementia before age 65. Besides alcohol poisoning, stroke and use of antipsychotic drugs increased the risk of dementia nearly three times while depression and dementia in the victim's father gave a near doubling of the risk. Significant increases in risk were also seen with drug intoxication other than alcohol, as well as in impaired cognitive function, short stature or high systolic blood pressure associated with military service.

Collectively, 68% of the cases of early dementia that occurred during the monitoring period were linked to the nine risk factors identified. Men with impaired cognitive function and at least two of the nine risk factors were up to 20 times greater risk of developing dementia during follow-up period.

The results have been published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. [1]


1. Nordström P, et al. Risk Factors in Late Adolescence for Young-Onset Dementia in MenA Nationwide Cohort Study. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 12, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.9079.


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