From the Journals

How does alcohol intake affect dementia risk in older adults?



Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may influence the relationship between alcohol consumption and dementia risk, a study of more than 3,000 adults suggests. In addition, alcohol dose and the frequency of alcohol intake correlate with cognitive decline and the risk of dementia, according to the study, which was published in JAMA Network Open.

An alcoholic beverage in a glass near a flask

“The associations of self-reported alcohol consumption with dementia risk and cognitive decline were more consistently adverse among individuals with MCI than those with normal cognition,” reported Manja Koch, PhD, a researcher in the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and colleagues. “This was particularly true for the subset of individuals [with MCI] who drank more than 14.0 servings per week, whose rate of cognitive decline and risk of dementia were the highest of any subgroup.”

Among older adults with normal cognition, the results generally were consistent with those of a recent meta-analysis that found a U-shaped relationship between drinking and dementia, the researchers said (Eur J Epidemiol. 2017 Jan;32[1]:31-42.).

“Our results did not show significant associations and clearly do not suffice to suggest a clinical benefit from even limited alcohol use,” said Dr. Koch and colleagues. “Nonetheless, our findings provide some reassurance that alcohol consumed within recommended limits was not associated with an increased risk of dementia among older adults with normal baseline cognition.”


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