Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School followed 6,500 Americans for two decades. All the study participants were born between 1931 and 1941, making them in their 70’s and 80’s today. When they were first interviewed, they were in their 50s and 60s, followed by memory tests every other year from 1996 to 2010, according to the article.
Study participants were asked questions about the amount of alcohol they consumed over the years. The research indicated that the 16 percent of participants who said they had a drinking problem at some time in the course of their life were much more likely to have memory problems later in life.
“We already know there is an association between dementia risk and levels of current alcohol consumption – that understanding is based on asking older people how much they drink and then observing whether they develop problems,” said lead researcher Dr. Iain Lang in a news release. “But this is only one part of the puzzle and we know little about the consequences of alcohol consumption earlier in life. What we did here is investigate the relatively unknown association between having a drinking problem at any point in life and experiencing problems with memory later in life.”
The study appears in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.