The Swedish researchers looked at data collected when Sweden still had mandatory military service, and followed up on the then young Swedish men who had registered between 1969 and 1979 and had been asked about their alcohol habits. The correlation was clear, the researchers said.
“If you ever suffered alcohol poisoning or had to be hospitalized due to drinking, the risk of early onset dementia increased five times,” researcher Peter Nordström told Sveriges Television (SVT).
The study followed up on almost half a million men and found that 487 of them had developed dementia disorders relatively early in life, findings which were published in the journal Jama Internal Medicine.
The men became ill at an average age of 54, with early dementia defined as illness that sets in before the age of 65.
Alcohol consumption early in life was only one of several risk factors identified in the study, however. Men who took anti-psychotic medication were at greater risk and suffering a stroke increased the chances of developing dementia.
While the study showed that the correlation between early alcohol habits and early onset dementia was stronger than the link to genetic factors, men whose father had suffered dementia were found to have double the risk of developing dementia also.
Alcohol poisoning, however, was singled out as the biggest risk factor in the study.