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Research suggests alcohol consumption helps stave off dementia
Date:3/2/2011

Experts agree that long-term alcohol abuse is detrimental to memory function and can cause neuro-degenerative disease. However, according to a study published in Age and Ageing by Oxford University Press today, there is evidence that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may decrease the risk of cognitive decline or dementia.

Estimates from various studies have suggested the prevalence of alcohol-related dementia to be about 10% of all cases of dementia. Now researchers have found after analyzing 23 longitudinal studies of subjects aged 65 years and older that the impact of small amounts of alcohol was associated with lower incidence rates of overall dementia and Alzheimer dementia, but not of vascular dementia and cognitive decline. It is still an open question whether different alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, and spirits, all have a similar effect. Some studies have shown a positive effect of wine only, which may be due either to the level of ethanol, the complex mixture that comprises wine, or to the healthier life-style ascribed to wine drinkers.

A total of 3,327 patients were interviewed in their homes by trained investigators (physicians, psychologists, gerontologists) and reassessed one and a half years and three years later. Information on the cognitive status of those who had died in the interim was collected from family members, caregivers or primary care physicians.

Among the 3,327 patients interviewed at baseline, 84.8% (n=2,820) could be personally interviewed one and a half years later and 73.9% (n=2,460) three years later. For the vast majority of subjects who could not be personally interviewed, systematic assessments (follow-up 1: 482; follow-up 2: 336) focusing particularly on dementia could be obtained from GPs, relatives or caregivers. Within three years, follow-up assessments were unavailable for only 49 subjects (1.5%). Proxy information could be obtained for 98.0% (n=295) of the 301 patients wh
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Contact: Christian Purdy
christian.purdy@oup.com
212-726-6032
Oxford University Press
Source:Eurekalert

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