Excessive alcohol use may put a person at risk of developing certain health problems relating to the brain. This may increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Long-term alcohol use may lead to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a type of dementia that affects more than six million Americans. And although the likelihood of having dementia also increases with age, it is not a typical part of aging.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines excessive drinking as consuming more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week for males. For females, it involves consuming more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week.
Research considers alcohol neurotoxic, meaning it damages the brain. It can reduce the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
Over time, excessive alcohol consumption increases a person’s risk of AD by 300%.
A 2019 review also found that excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder puts a person at a higher risk of all types of dementia. This review also associates excessive alcohol consumption with tobacco smoking and depression, increasing the risk.
Other factors that have links to the development of dementia may include infections, such as HIV or neurosyphilis, or thyroid disorders.