On Saturday and Sunday across the world, people wake up to the sun and groan in horror, remembering the night before. And despite the many cures and the lost mornings, we tend to keep doing this to ourselves. But there may be reasons not to, beyond the throbbing headaches and clinic visits. Heavy drinking, it turns out, has a pretty strong connection to dementia later in life, and it might even hit you before you get to retirement.
A study published by Lancet Public Health looked at one million French adults between 2008 and 2013 for signs of dementia, which is defined as the progressive loss of cognitive abilities like memory and reasoning. They were looking specifically at alcoholics and people with alcohol abuse disorders, and found some result that might make you order just a soda after your second drink, according to CNN:
Using data from the French National Hospital Discharge database, the researchers found that alcohol-use disorders were diagnosed in 16.5% of the men with dementia and 4% of the women with dementia — over twice as much as in those without dementia for both sexes… The association was particularly strong for those with early-onset dementia, diagnosed when the patient is younger than 65. Over half of the individuals in the early-onset group had alcohol-related dementia or an additional diagnosis of alcohol-use disorder.
The study notes that alcohol was either the cause or a complicating factor in nearly all early-onset dementia cases. The good news is that dementia is relatively rare before you hit 65, only affecting 5-7% of the population, although that goes up as you age. Still, as all signs point to a drink or two being good for you, and hangovers suck, maybe consider nursing that beer five minutes longer the next time you’re out.