Does Alcohol increase the risk of dementia?

According to the latest recommendations from the National Health Service (NHS), people who drink more than the recommended limit for alcohol have an increased risk of dementia.  Did you know that there is a proven link between alcohol and dementia?  This is no longer a warning or a recommendation to cut back on alcohol; this is now a recognised fact.   If you drink too much alcohol, and if you drink heavily at any given time, then there is a known correlation with the onset of common types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and early onset dementia.

What is the link between alcohol and dementia?

The NHS recommendation for alcohol is no more than 2 standard drinks per day, and certainly no more than 14 standard drinks over the course of a week.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you can have all 14 measures in one day, because that increases the risk of dementia even further.  The recommended alcohol intake is now the same 14 units per week for men and for women, because the risk of dementia due to alcohol intake is the same for both.  The problem is that the link between alcohol and dementia has shown that over an extended period of time, drinking results in loss of brain cells, and causes shrinkage of the brain.

What is binge drinking?

The problem with drinking too much alcohol in a single session is because of the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream.  Binge drinking has become a problem in society, because it is seen as acceptable.  But the problem is that the damage is being done on the inside, where public attention just doesn’t focus.  We all know only too well the effects of a hangover, headache and nausea, but for some reason have failed to recognise the signs that our body is trying to convey.  Alcohol is clearly not a healthy choice, but because of the social acceptance of this addictive drug, we consider that it is acceptable to drink too much alcohol.

Alcohol and dementia

We are all aware of the fact that after drinking too much alcohol, people cannot remember the events of the previous evening.  Unfortunately, this has become a badge of honour to drink too much to point of blackout.  The indicators are right there for us all to see, but for some reason we are surprised to learn that drinking too much alcohol is an increased risk of dementia.

Direct correlation between alcohol and the risk of dementia

Put simply, the more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk of getting dementia.  And not just later in life.  The incidence of early onset of dementia is getting higher, which is directly in line with the increased exposure to excess consumption of alcohol.  Alcohol related dementia is not something that we should laugh about, when we try to recall the events of the previous night’s drinking.  There can be knock on effects of the memory loss, such as lack of concentration, lack of planning and executive functions, a disregard for consequences of their behaviour, and ongoing issues with memory loss.  This is not funny – this is direct evidence of damage to the brain.

How does alcohol affect the brain?

The alcohol content in the bloodstream affects the blood vessels right around the body.  In the brain, the alcohol in the blood damages the intricate blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain, and constricts these delicate capillaries.  Alcohol is a neurotoxin that is carried into the brain cells and causes direct damage to the neurons.  Furthermore, alcohol is a solvent, and depletes the brain of vital nutrients, in particular, Thiamine or Vitamin B1.  Even worse, alcohol is known to damage the nerve cells around the body, causing the debilitating effects of neuropathy, which affects the nerves in the extremities of the body, such as the hands and feet.

Other risks of drinking too much

This should come as no surprise, as there are many adverse health conditions associated with drinking too much alcohol.  Many of the so called lifestyle diseases are directly attributed to consumption of alcohol, such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease and several different types of cancers.  And now we have to add the link between alcohol and dementia.

Does alcohol increase the risk of dementia?  alcohol and dementia

Previously, the severe side effects of alcohol were only recognised in extreme cases of alcohol consumption, and were associated with chronic alcoholism and alcoholics.  But more recently, studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between any level of consumption of alcohol.  That means there is no safe level of alcohol, there is a one to one relationship between drinking and the problems caused by drinking.  So it is no longer a case of how much is safe, but rather every drink places you on the scale of risk.  While the risk might be small, nevertheless, there is always some element of risk.

Alcohol is addictive

The real problem with alcohol is that we need to be aware that alcohol is an addictive substance, so even when we drink with the intention of keeping it in moderation, there is a tendency to forget our good intentions, and drink too much alcohol.

Therefore we can easily increase the risk of dementia from drinking too much alcohol.

The best way to avoid the link between alcohol and dementia is to reduce the amount of alcohol we drink or stop drinking alcohol completely.  Even better would be to throw in some exercise, healthy food and a little fun, happiness and excitement!.

If you need help to stop drinking or cut back on drinking, then click here to see our online course.