A study of risk factors for early-onset dementia finds alcohol abuse tops the list, HealthDay reports. In contrast, the influence of hereditary factors is small, according to the researchers.
They define early-onset dementia as occurring before age 65. The researchers studied 488,484 men drafted at about age 18 into the Swedish military over a 10-year period. They were followed for approximately 37 years. During that time, 487 men developed early-onset dementia, at an average age of 54.
Besides alcohol intoxication, other risk factors included drug abuse, the use of antipsychotic drugs, stroke, depression, having a father with dementia, poor mental functioning as a teen, being short and having high blood pressure. Men who had at least two of these risk factors, and were in the lowest third of overall mental ability, had a 20-fold increased risk.
“These risk factors were multiplicative, most were potentially modifiable, and most could be traced to adolescence, suggesting excellent opportunities for early prevention,” the researchers wrote in JAMA Internal Medicine.