Page last updated:June 2020

Midlife alcohol consumption and longitudinal brain atrophy: The PREVENT-dementia study

In a paper published in the Journal of Neurology, the authors state that consensus is lacking on whether light to moderate consumption of alcohol compared to abstinence is neuroprotective. Their research investigated the relationship between self-reported alcohol use and brain volume change over 2 years in middle-aged subjects.
A sample of 162 subjects from the PREVENT-Dementia programme, aged 40-59 at baseline, underwent MRI scans on two separate occasions (mean interval 734 days; SD 42 days). Longitudinal rates of brain atrophy and change in hippocampal volume were measured.
Controlling for age and sex, there were no significant associations of either total brain, ventricular, or hippocampal volume change with alcohol consumption. Adjusting for lifestyle, demographic and vascular risk factors did not alter this.
In conclusion, this study did not find any evidence of influence of alcohol consumption on changes in brain volume over a 2-year period in 40-60-year-olds.
Source: Firbank, M.J., O’Brien, J.T., Ritchie, K. et al. Midlife alcohol consumption and longitudinal brain atrophy: the PREVENT-Dementia study. J Neurol (2020).
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