Alcohol intoxication and stroke risk factors for young-onset dementia

13/08/2013 Umeå University

A study by researchers at Umeå University in Sweden suggests nine different factors that can increase the risk of developing dementia before age 65. The results have been published by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Dementia is a major public health concern that affects an estimated 35.6 million people worldwide. The cost and disability associated with dementia are expected to increase in the next 40 years, affecting more than 115 million people by 2050, writes Peter Nordstrӧm, Ph.D, of Umeå University, Sweden, and colleagues in the study background.

So-called young-onset dementia (YOD) or early dementia is a form of dementia that affects people before the age of 65.S

The study included 488,484 Swedish men conscripted for mandatory military service from 1969 to 1980 with an average age of 18 years. During a follow up period of 37 years suffered 487 men of early dementia and disease in these men were diagnosed when they were an average of 54 years old.

The study shows that the risk factor that was most strongly linked to the development of early dementia during follow-up period was alcohol poisoning, which increased the risk of dementia almost five times. Stroke and use of antipsychotic drugs increased the risk of dementia nearly three times while depression and dementia in the victim's father gave a near doubling of the risk.

Significant increases in risk were also seen in with drug intoxication other than alcohol, as well as in impaired cognitive function, short stature or high systolic blood pressure associated with military service.

Collectively, 68 percent of the cases of early dementia that occurred during the monitoring period were linked to the nine risk factors identified by the Umeå University reseachers. Men with impaired cognitive function and at least two of the nine risk factors were up to 20 times greater risk of developing dementia during follow-up period.

“The study shows that these independent risk factors are very important for the development of early dementia in men,” says Peter Nordström, Ph.D. “Because most risk factors can be identified early in life, there are good opportunities to prevent disease progression." 

Full bibliographic information

JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 12, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.9079. Available pre-embargo to the media at

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