Teetotallers' 'higher risk' of dementia
Abstinence from alcohol in middle age has been linked to a heightened risk of dementia, a new study suggests.
Both people who drink over the recommended limits and those who are teetotal in midlife are at an increased risk, researchers found.
A new study, published in the 'British Medical Journal', examined data on more than 9,000 people in the Whitehall II research - which tracked the health of civil servants working in London. They were aged between 35 and 55 when the study began in the mid-1980s.
Alcohol consumption was measured between 1985 and 1993, when the participants had an average age of 50. They were followed up for an average of 23 years, with cases of dementia identified through hospital, mental health services, and mortality records. A total of 397 cases of dementia were recorded.
Abstinence in midlife was associated with a 45pc higher risk of dementia compared with people who consumed between one and 14 units of alcohol per week.
Among excessive drinkers - those who consumed more than 14 units per week - experts found a heightened risk of dementia which increased the more a person drank.
"These results suggest abstention and excessive alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of dementia, although the underlying mechanisms are likely to be different in the two groups," the authors wrote.
Guidance states men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week.