Page last updated at 10:04 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 11:04 UK

Dementia risk for binge drinkers

Woman sitting on the ground with her head down
Binge drinking can increase the chances of dementia in middle age

A generation of young binge drinkers are increasing their risk of developing dementia in middle age, experts have warned.

Psychiatrists found poor balance, staggering and confusion, all familiar symptoms of binge drinking, can also be indicators of brain damage.

The findings are being discussed at a two-day conference in Stirling on dementia.

Researchers found the toxic effect of alcohol could lead to brain damage.

They also discovered that brain damage was more likely as a result of accidents or assaults where alcohol played a part.

Improving care

Conference speaker Dr Mehrdad Khorsand said brain damage was also linked to poor nutrition associated with heavy drinking, which could lead to syndromes like Wernicke's or Korsakoff's.

He said: "Korsakoff's is a chronic condition which affects the ability to absorb new information, and a quarter of patients make a good recovery, but Wernicke's is an acute form of delirium which can prove fatal if not treated promptly."

Studies have shown that Glasgow has the highest incidence of both conditions in the world, with people in their 30s affected.

The conference, hosted by the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling, will also focus on ways of improving care for those with dementia.

Health professionals have predicted the numbers of people with dementia in Scotland could reach 120,000 within 30 years.


SEE ALSO
Dementia experts gather for event
01 Sep 08 |  Tayside and Central
Alcohol clampdown plans unveiled
17 Jun 08 |  Scotland

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