Midwestern University Logo Prior investigations have pointed out the seeming association between alcohol consumption and dementia or cognitive impairment in later life. It is believed that mild to moderate alcohol consumption safeguards against dementia. Well, it now appears that midlife alcohol consumption is linked with the threat of dementia after 20 years. Scientists from the University of Turku, University of Helsinki and National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland claim that abstainers and those consuming large amounts of alcohol have a higher risk for cognitive impairment than light drinkers.

Along with the total alcohol consumption, also the effects of different drinking patterns were monitored throughout the study. Investigators predict that drinking large amounts of alcohol which is equal to a bottle of wine at a single occasion at least monthly is an independent risk factor for cognitive impairment. Such a pattern of binge drinking seems to double the chances of cognitive impairment even after statistically controlling total alcohol consumption.

Passing out because of heavy drinking on one occasion may also accelerate the development of subsequent cognitive impairment. It can therefore be concluded that the amount of alcohol along with the pattern by which alcohol is consumed apparently affects the risk of cognitive impairment. Jyri J. Virta, researcher at University of Turku, Finland, and colleagues mention that both abstainers as well as individuals drinking alcohol in large quantities have greater chances of developing cognitive impairment than light drinkers.

The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.