A long-term study of more than 9,000 people, which tracked the health of civil servants working in London, found that people who drank over the recommended limits for men and women and also those who have been teetotal in midlife were at an increased risk of the disease.
Scientists examined data on more than 9,000 people, who were aged between 35 and 55 when the study began in the mid-1980s.
She said that it was "intriguing" that abstaining from wine in particular was a cause of "significantly increased risk of dementia" among the study cohort, but also underscored that not all of those in the study group who did not drink alcohol could be described as healthy.
But the startling results are robust, and should prompt government-funded trials to assess "the possible protective effect of light-to-moderate alcohol use on risk of dementia", commented Sevil Yasar, an associate professor at the John Hopkins School of Medicine who was not involved in the study.
Perhaps the most important contribution of the recently published research, however, was the discovery that doing the exact opposite of excessive drinking - abstinence from alcohol consumption in middle-age - is a factor for developing the illness as well.
In abstainers, the researchers show that some of the excess dementia risk was due to a greater risk of cardiometabolic disease.
Long-term abstainers and those who reported a decrease in alcohol consumption also appeared to have an increased risk.
Researchers say it's almost impossible to definitively determine the effect of alcohol consumption - as it would require a trial in which participants would have to stop drinking or start drinking heavily.
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The latest follow-up found 397 recorded cases of dementia.
What is slightly odd, however, is that the higher risk of dementia for people who abstained from alcohol was only apparent if they didn't drink wine.
Guidance from the United Kingdom chief medical officer states that men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week - the equivalent of around six pints of beer.
Dr Tony Rao, an old age psychiatrist and member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists" Addictions Faculty, said: "These results should be interpreted with a high degree of caution.
History of hospital admission for alcohol related chronic diseases was associated with a four times higher risk of dementia.
But the reasons why abstinence and excessive drinking are harmful are thought to be different.
Dr Rao added that there were also other lifestyle factors that could affect the development of dementia and make it hard to draw any meaningful conclusions.