A recent study has linked abstinence and large amount of alcohol consumption to increased risk of cognitive impairment.
The study, conducted at the University of Turku, University of Helsinki and National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, shows that midlife alcohol consumption is related to the risk of dementia assessed some 20 years later.
The study indicates that both abstainers and subjects consuming large amounts of alcohol have a greater risk for cognitive impairment than light drinkers.
In addition to total alcohol consumption, the authors were able to assess the effects of different drinking patterns.
The study suggests that drinking large amounts of alcohol (defined as a bottle of wine or the equivalent) at a single occasion at least monthly is an independent risk factor for cognitive impairment.
Such binge drinking doubles the risk of cognitive impairment even when total alcohol consumption was statistically controlled for.
Similarly, passing out because of heavy drinking on one occasion was also found to increase the development of subsequent cognitive impairment.
Thus, it is not only the amount of alcohol, but also the pattern by which alcohol is consumed that affect the risk of cognitive impairment.
The findings were published in the December issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.