Alcohol and Dementia Risk
A review of nearly 45 epidemiological studies conducted since the early 1990s found that moderate consumption of alcohol (beer, win and liquor or spirits) significantly reduced the risk of cognitive loss or dementia in over half the studies. Only a few found evidence of any increased risk.
Most explanations for the positive effects of moderate drinking on cognitive abilities have focused on the improvements that it makes to the blood and to better cardiovascular health and circulation. Anything that is good for the cardiovascular system is generally good for cognition.
However, there is experimental evidence that moderate alcohol levels can also have direct positive effects on the nervous system itself. That is, it appears that moderate consumption of alcohol has a direct "neuroprotective" action.
Drinking in moderation has been described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) a man consuming four drinks on any day and an average of 14 drinks per week. For women, it is consuming three drinks in any one day and an average of seven drinks per week.
A standard alcoholic drink is:
- A 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
- A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
- A shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof liquor or spirits such as vodka, tequila, or rum either straight or in a mixed drink.
Standard drinks contain equivalent amounts of alcohol. To a breathalyzer, they're all the same.
There is no evidence that any particular form of alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, or distilled spirits) confers greater health benefits than any other.
Note: This website provides no recommendations for drinking alcohol and dementia or Alzheimer's disease risk or for any other health or medical matter and none should be inferred.
Readings on Alcohol and Dementia:
- Anstey, K. J., et al. Lower cognitive test scores observed in alcohol are associated with demographic, personality, and biological factors: The PATH Through Life Project. Addiction, 2005, 100(9), 1291-1301.
- Antilla, Tiia, 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 cofgnitive performance in elderly Japanes American men: The Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. American Journal of Public Health, 2000, 90, 1254-1259.
- Galanis, D. J., et al. A longitudinal study of drinking and cofgnitive performance in elderly Japanes 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, 2002, 55(10), 959-964.
- Mulkamal, K.J., et al. Prospective study of alcohol consumption and risk of dementia in older adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003 (March 19), 289, 1405-1413.
- Orogozo, J. M., et al. Wine consumption and dementia in the elderly: aprospective 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.
- Ruitenberg, A., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of demewntia: the Rotterdam Study. Lancet, 2002, 359(9303), 281-286.
- Solfrizzi, Vencenzo 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
- 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.