A person who drinks enough to develop an alcohol-related disorder has a much greater risk of dementia, even among those who are not very old.

Heavy drinkers have triple the risk for dementia: study


A comprehensive study of data from the population of France shows that people who were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related problems had three times the risk of having dementia and especially early-onset dementia. It’s likely the conclusions would apply to heavy drinkers in Canada and other countries.

Dementia under 65 is rare

In Canada, dementia affects about 10 per cent of the population over the age of 65. And the risk for dementia increases exponentially with age. In the group under the age of 65, dementia is fairly rare.

“I think what this study points out is that… We think of it (dementia) as a condition of ageing, but it is certainly possible to develop dementia under the age of 65,” says Susan Vandermorris, a clinical neuropsychologist at Baycrest Health Sciences, a hospital in Toronto.  She was not part of the study but treats patients with dementia.


Neuropsychologist Susan Vandermorris says many people are more afraid of dementia than they are of death.

The study did not define how much drinking was at issue, but it was based on people admitted to hospital because of their alcohol-related problems of a physical or psychological nature.

This study is not about having a glass of wine with dinner, but about people with a heavy drinking problem.

A useful message for heavy drinkers, says neuropsychologist

Canadian authorities recommend that people drink moderately. That message is already being sent through advertising and other public health policies like sanctions for drinking and driving.

But Vandermorris thinks this study will be useful if it sends another message to heavy drinkers:  “This narrative that alcohol-use disorders may be associated with dementia may be useful for some people to hear. ..A lot of people fear dementia more than death. So, maybe this is the sort of new finding that helps a person who’s on the fence about cutting down drinking , start to take more steps cutting down.

“But practically, from a day-to-day standpoint, the study doesn’t say we should change our habits of drinking a glass of wine at dinner. The study is silent on that kind of thing.”

The study was published in The Lancet.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Health

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.