Binge drinking linked to cognitive decline in elderly

Binge drinking by older adults is linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline, researchers have found.

Heavy drinking by older adults linked to cognitive decline
Heavy drinking by older adults linked to cognitive decline

A team from the University of Exeter examined eight years of data from 5,075 men and women aged 65 years and over.

Participants who reported heavy episodic drinking at least two times a month were more than twice as likely to be among participants suffering the greatest loss of memory and cognitive function.

Dr Iain Lang, who led the study, said binge drinking was already known to have a number of harmful effects.

‘It can increase the risk of harm to the cardiovascular system, including the chance of developing heart disease, and it is related to an increased risk of both intentional and unintentional injuries,’ he said.

‘However, until we conducted our study it was not clear what the effect was of binge drinking on cognitive function and the risk of developing dementia.’

Dr Lang said the finding that binge drinking is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline was a ‘real worry’.

‘This research has a number of implications,’ he said. ‘First, older people – and their doctors –  should be aware that binge drinking may increase their risk of experiencing cognitive decline and encouraged to change their drinking behaviours accordingly.

‘Second, policymakers and public health specialists should know that binge drinking is not just a problem among adolescents and younger adults. We have to start thinking about older people when we are planning interventions to reduce binge drinking.’

The research was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2012 in Vancouver, Canada.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Draft PCN plans put practices' financial stability at risk, say London GPs

Draft PCN plans put practices' financial stability at risk, say London GPs

Draft service specifications for primary care networks (PCNs) threaten the stability...

One in six GP practices linked to parkrun events

One in six GP practices linked to parkrun events

More than 1,350 GP practices across the UK have linked up with a local parkrun event...

Babylon signs 10-year 'integrated digital health' deal with NHS trust that runs 10 GP practices

Babylon signs 10-year 'integrated digital health' deal with NHS trust that runs 10 GP practices

The company behind controversial video service GP at Hand has partnered with an NHS...

Staff and patients attacked in 'serious incident' at GP practice

Staff and patients attacked in 'serious incident' at GP practice

Four members of staff and four patients have been injured in a 'serious incident'...

10 tips for greener general practice

10 tips for greener general practice

Taking steps to tackle climate change can help improve people's health both now and...

Public health officials issue coronavirus guidance for primary care

Public health officials issue coronavirus guidance for primary care

Public Health England (PHE) has issued interim guidance for primary care clinicians...