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Chronic Drinking Increases Risk of Essential Tremor

Each year of regular drinking adds over 20 percent to risk of developing tremor

THURSDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of daily consumption of alcohol increases the risk of subsequently developing involuntary -- or essential -- tremor, according to a study published online April 9 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Elan D. Louis, M.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues conducted a study of 3,285 people in Spain, 76 of whom developed essential tremor. The researchers gathered information on alcohol consumption history, smoking status, depressive symptoms and community. Of the cohort, 56 percent were regular consumers of alcohol.

Compared with non-drinkers, those who drank the most had twice the risk of developing essential tremor, and each higher drink-year quartile increased the risk of essential tremor by an average 23 percent, after taking cigarette pack-years, depressive symptoms and community factors into account, the investigators found.

"We observed that the highest levels of chronic ethanol consumption seemed to increase the risk of developing essential tremor. The mechanism, though not established, could involve cumulative cerebellar neurotoxicity," the authors write. "By implication, it is conceivable that chronic ethanol use, while symptomatically beneficial for patients, could be a continued source of underlying cerebellar neurotoxicity and, therefore, be a continued contributor to the progression of the disease."

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