Health News Update: Flu kills 27, drinking linked to dementia

SOUTHEASTERN, NC (WECT) - Flu kills 27 last week, but NC may have passed peak

The flu season continues in North Carolina, with 27 deaths reported last week by state health officials.

In total, at least 200 have died from the flu since the season began in October 2017.

A look at the graph of flu cases reported each week shows that we might have passed the peak of flu season, but the virus typically spreads until May.

So far this year, Dosher Memorial Hospital reports 74 confirmed flu cases in their facilities. Of them, 31% (23 patients) were under age 20; 28% (21 patients) were 60 and older.

Drinking too much could lead to dementia

A new study found heavy drinking is linked to dementia, and may even cause the constellation of symptoms to start earlier in life.

Dementia is when a person's brain function declines causing memory loss and impaired thinking skills.

Published this week in the journal Lancet Public Health, the study looked at the hospital records of one million French hospital patients with dementia between 2008 and 2013.

57% percent of people with early onset dementia – diagnosed before age 65 --  also had an alcohol use disorder.

An alcohol use disorder is defined by the "chronic harmful use of alcohol or alcohol dependence."

Patients with alcohol use disorder got dementia at 3 times the rate of those without alcoholism.

The study wasn't perfect. Limitations included that only patients discharged from French hospitals were studied. The researchers did not also examine the patients directly, and instead relied on hospital codes for dementia and alcoholism problems.

How much drinking is OK for health?

This large study adds to evidence that heavy drinking can damage our bodies over time.

When alcohol is broken down in the body, the metabolites are toxic to the brain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a maximum of 1 drink a day for women, and 2 drinks a day for men.

A drink is 1 beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 shot of liquor.

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