(ORDO NEWS) — The authors of the new study advise people who suddenly become addicted to alcohol at a later age to see a neurologist and get checked for neurodegenerative diseases.
A study by scientists from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil), the Institute of Brain Health and the Center for Memory and Aging at the University of California at San Francisco (USA), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York showed that the presence of a neurological disease, especially frontotemporal dementia, may influence the risk of alcohol abuse in patients over 40 years of age.
Alcohol abuse in the United States generally refers to more than four drinks (a bottle of beer or a glass of wine) per day, or 14 drinks per week for men and three drinks per day for women, or more than seven drinks per week.
In this case, alcohol begins to negatively affect a person’s life, his relationships with others, leads to difficulties at work and often to problems with the law. According to experts, in the United States, 1.7 percent of the adult population are prone to alcohol abuse.
Numerous previous studies have concluded that excessive alcohol consumption during a lifetime increases the risk of developing dementia.
But it was not known whether adults who acquired alcohol cravings at a later age have any of the neurodegenerative diseases (characterized by the slowly progressive death of certain groups of nerve cells and at the same time gradually increasing atrophy of the corresponding parts of the brain and / or spinal cord ).
A new cross-sectional retrospective study analyzed data from 1518 patients collected from 1999 to 2017: these people were diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (mainly the frontal lobes and anterior temporal lobes of the brain are affected), or Alzheimer’s-type senile dementia (known as Alzheimer’s disease).
Alzheimer’s), or primary progressive aphasia (leads to loss of speech functions in the absence of cognitive impairment). The propensity to abuse alcohol was tested using a questionnaire.
As it turned out, 2.2 percent of participants after 40 years of age were addicted to alcohol. “Alcohol abuse later in life was significantly more common in patients with a clinical diagnosis of behavioral frontotemporal dementia than in people with Alzheimer’s disease (7.5 percent (13 of 173) vs. 1.3 percent (16 of 1254), respectively)” , the scientists write.
People with primary progressive aphasia experienced excessive alcohol cravings after age 40 in 4.4 percent of cases.
No difference was found between the frequency of alcohol consumption throughout life, including up to 40 years of age, in the three groups. Overall, alcohol abuse was a sign of a neurodegenerative disease in 1.4 percent of patients, usually beginning within the first three years of the onset of symptoms.
Since people who start drinking later in life are usually seen first by psychiatrists and health care workers, experts should be aware that a neurodegenerative disease may be at the root of this addiction, the researchers said.
“It is necessary to conduct a special assessment, including a frontal lobe examination, and send risk groups to a neurologist. Early and correct diagnosis is paramount for the best possible treatment,” the scientists added.
According to the authors of the work, their results indicated not only a special propensity to drink alcohol after 40 years in those suffering from frontotemporal dementia, but also a possible difference in the biological mechanisms that underlie alcohol abuse precisely at a later age or throughout life.
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