Surge in alcohol-related dementia predicted

Urgent action is needed to prevent a 'silent epidemic' of alcohol-related dementia in the UK, psychiatrists have warned.

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Writing in the November issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, two London-based psychiatrists with a special interest in dementia discuss the potential impact of increasing alcohol consumption among young and middle-aged people.

Dr Susham Gupta, a specialist registrar in adult and old age psychiatry, and Dr James Warner, a consultant in older adults’ psychiatry, observe that attitudes towards alcohol have changed significantly over the last few decades. Not only has society taken a more relaxed attitude to drinking but alcohol has become cheaper and more widely available.

Research has shown that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to loss of brain tissue and that binge drinking is associated with an increased risk of dementia.

The authors conclude that we are likely to see a surge in cases of alcohol-related dementia in future generations.

neil.durham@haymarket.com

British Journal of Psychiatry 193: 351-353

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