A study has revealed that both heavy drinking and abstaining from alcohol completely increases the chances of developing dementia.
The major study was conducted with 10,000 British civil servants who were assessed every five years since 1985.
It is thought that the link found between heavy drinking or abstaining and dementia were likely for different reasons.
Dementia is a disease which, among other things, causes memory loss.
However, It was found that there was no link between moderate alcohol consumption and dementia.
“Overall, no evidence was found that alcohol consumption between 1 unit/week and 14 units/week increases the risk of dementia,” the study concluded.
The results, which was published in the British Medical Journal, showed the chances of developing dementia increased in line with the number of alcohol units consumed per week in people recorded as heavy drinkers.
One of the reasons recorded for this was damage to nerve tissue. The increased risk was four times higher in people who were hospitalised for chronic diseases caused by alcohol consumption.
On the other hand, when they looked at people who didn't drink, the group was predominantly made of women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
The researchers found that this group's link was the higher prevalence of diseases like stroke, diabetes or heart disease.
These cardiometabolic diseases are already linked with a high dementia risk.
The recommended alcohol limit in Ireland is 17 units per week for men, and 11 units for women.
17 units are equivalent to about 7 pints of beer or 6 glasses of wine.