Study links alcohol abuse to worsening mental health


[Representational image] | Credit: Creative Commons

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has conducted a study of over 1 million people in France who have been diagnosed with dementia and concluded that chronic alcohol consumption is to blame.

The CAMH is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital.

The study was published in the Lancet Public Health journal, according to a news release from CAMH dated February 20 this year.

Findings of the study

According to the release: “This study looked specifically at the effect of alcohol use disorders, and included people who had been diagnosed with mental and behavioural disorders or chronic diseases that were attributable to chronic harmful use of alcohol.”

It added: “Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before the age of 65), the majority (57 percent) were related to chronic heavy drinking.”

Study co-author and CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research director Dr Jurgen Rehm was quoted by the CAMH release as saying: “The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths.”

He added: “Alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia are preventable, and known-effective preventive and policy measures can make a dent into premature dementia deaths.”

What is chronic heavy drinking?

Chronic heavy drinking is described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “consuming more than 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men and 40 grams per day for women,” according to the CAMH release.

With the CAMH study showing a strong correlation between chronic heavy drinking and various kinds of dementia, including early-onset dementia, doctors have recommended “screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders” be advised to patients.

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