Light & Moderate Alcohol Drinking Reduces Cognitive Impairment Risk

A cross-sectional study of older Chinese (mean age = 79.9 years) in Hong Kong examined the relationship between alcohol consumption and cognitive impairment.

Researchers found that men and women who were light or moderate drinkers were at significantly reduced risk of cognitive impairment compared with both heavy drinkers and non-drinkers. Physical exercise also independently reduced risk of cognitive impairment whereas age increased the risk.

The finding that abstaining from alcohol and abusing it are both risk factors for developing cognitive impairment (reduced cognitive function) is consistent with other research.

Note: This website makes no suggestions or recommendations about drinking alcohol and cognitive function or any other health matter and none should be inferred.


  • Chan, K.K., Chiu, K.C., and Chu, L.W. Association between alcohol consumption and cognitive impairment in Southern Chinese older adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2010, 25(120), 1272-1279.

Readings on Drinking Alcohol and Cognitive Function:

  • (listing does not imply endorsement)
  • Andel, R., et al. Strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Aging Health, 2005, 1(1), 107-116.
  • Anstey, K.J., et al. Alcohol consumption as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline: meta-analysis of prospective studies. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2009, 17(7), 542-555.
  • Antilla, T., et al. Alcohol drinking in middle age and subsequent risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia in old age: a prospective population based study. British Medical Journal, 2004, 329, 538-539.
  • Dufouil, C., et al. Sex Differences in the Association between Alcohol Consumption and Cognitive Performance. American Journal of Epidemiology, 146(5), 405-412.
  • Espeland, M., et al. Association between alcohol intake and domain-specific cognitive function in older women. Neuroepidemiology, 2006, 1(27), 1-12.
  • Galanis, D. J., et al. A longitudinal study of drinking and cognitive performance in elderly Japanese American men: The Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. American Journal of Public Health, 2000, 90, 1254-1259.
  • Ganguli, M., et al. Alcohol consumption and cognitive function in late life: A longitudinal community study. Neurology, 2005, 65, 1210-12-17.
  • Huang, W., et al. Alcohol consumption and incidence of dementia in a community sample aged 75 years and older. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 55(10), 959-964
  • Lopes, M. A., et al. Prevalence of Alcohol-Related Problems in an Elderly Population and Their Association With Cognitive Impairment and Dementia. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2010. PMID 20102571.
  • McDougall, Graham. Older Women's Cognitive and Affective Response to Moderate Drinking. Presented at the meetings of the National Congress on the State of Science in Nursing Research. Washington, D.C., October 7-8, 2004.
  • Mulkamal, K.J., et al. Prospective study of alcohol consumption and risk of dementia in older adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003, 289, 1405-1413.
  • Orogozo, J. M., et al. Wine consumption and dementia in the elderly: a prospective community study in the Bordeaux area. Revue Neurologique, 1997, 153.
  • Rodgers, B., et al. Non-linear relationships between cognitive function and alcohol consumption in young, middle-aged and older adults: The PATH Through Life Project. Addiction, 2005, 100(9), 1280-1290.
  • Solfrizzi, V., et al. Alcohol consumption, mild cognitive impairment, and progression to dementia. Neurology, 2007, 68(2).
  • Stampfer, M.J., et al. Effects of moderate alcohol consumption on cognitive function in women. New England Journal of Medicine, 2005, 352, 245-253.
  • Sink, K., et al. Moderate Alcohol Intake Is Associated With Nearly 40% Lower Risk of Dementia. Paper presented at Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease. Vienna, Austria, July, 2009. (
  • Zuccala, G. , et al. Dose-related impact of alcohol consumption on cognitive function in advanced age: Results of a multicenter study. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2001, 25, 1743-1748.

Filed Under: Aging

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