A team of researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom have published an interesting new study showcasing the causal link between drinking and long term memory impairment in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. The researchers questioned a group of 6,542 American adults of middle age about their drinking history. Next, they assessed their mental abilities. The results, while not necessarily surprising, are certainly illuminating.
In an interview with The Daily Mail, Dr. Iain Lang, the study’s lead researcher, said, “This finding – that middle-aged people with a history of problem drinking more than double their chances of memory impairment when they are older – suggests… that this is a public health issue that needs to be addressed.”
Alcohol Forces the Brain to Mimic Symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Other Diseases
This new study is just the latest in a long history of trying to bridge the gap between alcohol intake and debilitating, life altering neurological diseases. A previous study from Suzanne L. Tyas, Ph.D. published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism tried to ascertain whether or not alcohol abuse led to a higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
While no causal link was found, the research did find interesting similarities between the way brains act under the influence of alcohol and the way Alzheimer’s forces them to act. For instance, the average person can recite a phone number 10 times and have it memorized. If you put the same task to an inebriated or mentally impaired person, they will likely show the same degree of difficulty or confusion with the task.
Many posit that this effect of alcohol could be what prompts the brain to deteriorate into the various states of mental impairment that plague the elderly population. This newly established link between heavy drinking in young to middle age people and long term mental impairment in the twilight of life could be the first step toward solving the issue.
Are you worried that your drinking habits will lead to a mental condition later on in life? Tell us why or why not in the comment section below.