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Re: depression and alcohol--is my pdoc right?

Posted by Phillipa on April 10, 2009, at 19:33:26

In reply to Re: depression and alcohol--is my pdoc right? yxibow, posted by Phillipa on April 10, 2009, at 19:02:23

Well hate to post this as just came in newsletter. Uggg!!!!! Phillipa

Heavy Drinking Doubles Risk for Essential Tremor Later in Life

April 9, 2009 Drinking 3 units of alcohol a day increases the risk of developing essential tremor, a new study shows. Investigators reporting in the April issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry warn of the potential cerebellar neurotoxicity of alcohol particularly important information for those who use alcohol to relieve symptoms of essential tremor.

Essential tremor affects an estimated 5 million American adults older than 60 years. The cause is unknown, but it is thought to be the result of damage to the Purkinje cells and disrupted signaling between synapses.

Alcohol is a known neurotoxin, particularly to the cerebellum, which is involved in essential tremor. But paradoxically, alcohol is often used to relieve symptoms in those who have already been diagnosed with tremor.

Investigators, led by Elan Louis, MD, from the New York Neurological Institute, in New York City, warn that such treatment could in fact hasten progression and worsen symptoms. "Future studies should explore these issues," the group writes.

Alcohol Neurotoxic

Investigators studied lifetime alcohol consumption and neurological symptoms in close to 3300 people 65 years and older. Participants were part of a large population survey of age-related conditions. The work is known as the Neurological Disorders in Central Spain Study (or NEDICES).

Just over half (56%) of participants reported drinking regularly. In all, 76 patients had developed incident essential tremor by follow-up 3 years later.

The researchers report that patients who developed tremor were significantly more likely to have been drinking often and for a long period of time. After taking factors into account likely to influence the results, such as lifetime cigarette smoking and depression, they found that those who drank regularly more than doubled their risk for essential tremor.

Relative Risk for Essential Tremor Baseline Drink-Year Quartile Adjusted Relative Risk 95% CI P Value
Non drinkers Reference
Lowest quartile (≤40.7) 1.43 0.68 2.98 .34
2nd quartile (40.8 to 110) 1.75 0.89 3.42 .10
3rd quartile (110.1 to 138) 1.82 0.89 3.74 .10
Highest quartile (>138) 2.29 1.15 4.54 .018

Every additional year of regular daily drinking increased the risk for tremor by 23%. Even those who drank fewer units, but who drank regularly, increased their risk, although not to the same extent.

This study had several limitations, the authors point out. The findings cannot be generalized to patients older than 65. They note that the mean follow-up time was modest, and a longer study would likely have resulted in more essential tremor cases and greater study power.

NEDICES was funded by the Spanish Health Research Agency and the Spanish Office of Science and Technology. Dr. Louis is receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2009;80:423-425. Abstract




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