Page last updated: January 10, 2017
Alcohol consumption and dementia risk

Alcohol consumption and dementia risk It is widely believed that light-to-moderate alcohol intake may protect against dementia while excessive or regular binge drinking may increase the risk.

A study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology investigated the potential dose-response association between alcohol consumption and risk of dementia. A systematic search was conducted in electronic databases to identify relevant studies. Risk estimates were combined using a random-effect model. Eleven studies with 73,330 participants and 4,586 cases for all-cause dementia (ACD), five studies with 52,715 participants and 1,267 cases for Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) and four studies with 49,535 participants and 542 cases for vascular dementia were included.

A nonlinear association was observed between alcohol consumption and ACD risk (p nonlinearity < 0.05). The alcohol dose associated with lower risk of dementia was confined to at most 12.5 g/day, with the lowest risk at roughly 6 g/day. Of note, the ACD risk seemed to be elevated (≈10%) when the dose surpasses certain levels: 23 drinks/week or 38 g/day (5 units a day or just under 3 US standard drinks or more a day). For the alcohol type, recommendation for wine is prioritized. The subgroup analysis further indicated that the effect of alcohol may be greater in younger adults (<60 years old) with regard to fighting against dementia.

This study, re enforces many other findings that modest alcohol consumption (≤12.5 g/day) is associated with a significant reduced risk of dementia with 6 g/day of alcohol conferring a lower risk than other levels. Excessive drinking, that is 38 g/day or more may instead elevate the risk, they conclude.

Source: Alcohol consumption and dementia risk: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Xu W, Wang H, Wan Y, Tan C, Li J, Tan L, Yu JT. European Journal of Epidemiology First Online: 17 January 2017.

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