Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moderate drinking may protect against Alzheimer's and cognitive impairment, study suggests

Date:
August 19, 2011
Source:
Loyola University Health System
Summary:
Moderate social drinking may significantly reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment, suggests a new analysis of 143 studies.

Moderate social drinking may significantly reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment, suggests an analysis of 143 studies by Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researchers.

Related Articles


Researchers reviewed studies dating to 1977 that included more than 365,000 participants. Moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Wine was more beneficial than beer or spirits. But this finding was based on a relatively small number of studies, because most papers did not distinguish among different types of alcohol.

Results are reported in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. The authors are Edward J. Neafsey, PhD. and Michael A. Collins, PhD., professors in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Heavy drinking (more than 3 to 5 drinks per day) was associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, but this finding was not statistically significant.

"We don't recommend that nondrinkers start drinking," Neafsey said. "But moderate drinking -- if it is truly moderate -- can be beneficial." Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.

Among the studies reviewed, 74 papers calculated the ratios of risk between drinkers and non-drinkers, while 69 papers simply stated whether cognition in drinkers was better, the same or worse than cognition in nondrinkers. Neafsey and Collins did a meta-analysis of the studies that calculated risk ratios and found that moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop dementia or cognitive decline.

Other findings:

  • The protective effect of moderate drinking held up after adjusting for age, education, sex and smoking.
  • There was no difference in the effects of alcohol on men and women.
  • The beneficial effect of moderate drinking was seen in 14 of 19 countries, including the United States. In 3 of the remaining 5 countries, researchers also found a benefit, but it was not strong enough to be statistically significant.
  • The findings were similar across different types of studies (longitudinal cohort studies, case-control studies and cross-sectional studies).

It is unknown why moderate drinking can have a beneficial effect. One theory suggests that the well-known cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, such as raising good HDL cholesterol, also can improve blood flow in the brain and thus brain metabolism.

A second possible explanation involves "sick quitters." According to this theory, nondrinkers have a higher risk of cognitive impairment and dementia because the group includes former heavy drinkers who damaged their brain cells before quitting. But the analysis by Neafsey and Collins did not support this explanation. They found that in studies that excluded former heavy drinkers, the protective effect of moderate drinking still held up.

Neafsey and Collins suggest a third possible explanation: Small amounts of alcohol might, in effect, make brain cells more fit. Alcohol in moderate amounts stresses cells and thus toughens them up to cope with major stresses down the road that could cause dementia.

For people who drink responsibly and in moderation, there's probably no reason to quit. But because of the potential for alcohol to be abused, Neafsey and Collins do not recommend that abstainers begin drinking.

The researchers note that there are other things besides moderate drinking that can reduce the risk of dementia, including exercise, education and a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts and seeds. Even gardening has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia.

Moreover, there are times when people should never drink, including adolescence, pregnancy and before driving, the researchers said.

The Neafsey and Collins study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Edward Neafsey, Michael Collins. Moderate alcohol consumption and cognitive risk. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2011; 7 (1): 465-484 DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S23159

Cite This Page:

Loyola University Health System. "Moderate drinking may protect against Alzheimer's and cognitive impairment, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816112134.htm>.
Loyola University Health System. (2011, August 19). Moderate drinking may protect against Alzheimer's and cognitive impairment, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816112134.htm
Loyola University Health System. "Moderate drinking may protect against Alzheimer's and cognitive impairment, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816112134.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins