Heavy chronic alcohol appears to be a risk factor for early-onset dementia (occurring before age 65) a large Swedish study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has found.
The study included 500,000 Swedish men who were followed for 37 years beginning at an average age of 18. Nine risk factors emerged for early-onset dementia. The study cohort was taken from the Swedish Military Service Conscription Register from January 1969 through to December 1971.
During a median follow-up of 37 years, 487 men were diagnosed as having YOD at a median age of 54 years. The nine significant risk factors for YOD (in descending order of importance) were alcohol intoxication (hazard ratio 4.82), stroke, use of antipsychotics depression father’s dementia drug intoxication other than alcohol, low cognitive function at conscription, low height at conscription, and high systolic blood pressure at conscription.
The population-attributable risk associated with all 9 risk factors was 68%. Men with at least 2 of these risk factors and in the lowest third of overall cognitive function were found to have a 20-fold increased risk of YOD during follow-up (hazard ratio, 20.38).
These risk factors were found to be multiplicative, but most were potentially modifiable, and the authors stress, most could be traced to adolescence, suggesting excellent opportunities for early prevention.
Source: Risk Factors in Late Adolescence for Young-Onset Dementia in Men: A Nationwide Cohort Study. P Nordström; A Nordströn; M Eriksson; L Wahlund; Y Gustafson. JAMA Intern Med. Published online Aug 12, 2013.