Drinking Alcohol and Cognitive Impairment, Dementia, and Alzheimer's: Research Evidence
Investigators examined 74 research studies that provided risk estimates for varying levels of alcohol consumption on cognitive impairment and dementia. The studies included over 250,000 subjects, most of whom were older (92% were over years of age or older and 70% were 65 years of age or older).
The authors reported that "These studies overwhelmingly found that moderate drinking either reduced or had no effect on the risk of dementia or cognitive impairment." Overall, moderate drinkers had a 23% lower chance of suffering cognitive impairment or dementia than non-drinkers or abstainers.
The authors also found that
- the presence of "sick quitters" among abstainers had no affect on the results,
- age, education, gender and smoking had no affect on the results,
- the method used to assess dementia had no affect on the results,
- the effects of alcohol were the same for overall dementia, Alzheimer's disease (Alzheimer's dementia), and vascular dementia, and
- both light and moderate drinking were associated with reduced risk, while heavy or abusive drinking was associated with increased cognitive risk.
These findings are consistent with other meta-analyses, which have also found that light and moderate drinking reduce the risk of dementia or cognitive impairment.
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- Neafsey, E.J. and Colling, M.A. Moderate alcohol consumption and cognitive risk. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2011, 7, 465-484;
- Peters, R., et al. Alcohol, dementia and cognitive decline in the elderly: a systematic review. Age and Ageing, 2008, 37, 505–512;
- Anstey, K.J., Mack, H.A., and Cherbuin, N. Alcohol consumption as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline: meta-analysis of prospective studies. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2009, 17, 542–555.
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