Drinking heavily during teenage years could be the single biggest risk factor of young-onset dementia (YOD), a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals.
The study was conducted by researchers at Sweden's Umea University who observed more than 448,000 men conscripted into military service between 1969 and 1979 with an average age of 18 years. By the time they turned 54 years old, around 487 had been diagnosed with YOD, cases where people are diagnosed with dementia before they turn 65 years old.
The researchers identified nine factors that increased the risk of YOD, including having a father with dementia, low cognitive function, anti-psychotic drugs, high systolic blood pressure, depression and having a stroke while young. However 'alcohol intoxication' was seen as the single largest risk factor for YOD.
"Young-onset dementia that is, dementia diagnosed before 65 years of age, has been related to genetic mutations in affected families. The identification of other risk factors could improve the understanding of this heterogeneous group of syndromes. Collectively, these factors accounted for 68 per cent of the YOD cases identified", lead researcher Dr Peter Nordstrom said.