Alcohol consumption in mild cognitive impairment and dementia: Harmful or neuroprotective?

Geriatric Unit and Gerontology-Geriatric Research Laboratory, IRCCS Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. , .
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 2.87). 12/2012; 27(12):1218-38. DOI: 10.1002/gps.3772
Source: PubMed


Objective: In several longitudinal studies, light-to-moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages has been proposed as being protective against the development of age-related changes in cognitive function, predementia syndromes, and cognitive decline of degenerative (Alzheimer's disease, AD) or vascular origin (vascular dementia). However, contrasting findings also exist.
Method: The English literature published in this area before September 2011 was evaluated, and information relating to the various factors that may impact upon the relationship between alcohol consumption and dementia or predementia syndromes is presented in the succeeding texts.
Results: Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of incident overall dementia and AD; however, protective benefits afforded to vascular dementia, cognitive decline, and predementia syndromes are less clear. The equivocal findings may relate to many of the studies being limited to cross-sectional designs, restrictions by age or gender, or incomplete ascertainment. Different outcomes, beverages, drinking patterns, and study follow-up periods or possible interactions with other lifestyle-related (e.g., smoking) or genetic factors (e.g., apolipoprotein E gene variation) may all contribute to the variability of findings.
Conclusion: Protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption against cognitive decline are suggested to be more likely in the absence of the AD-associated apolipoprotein E ε4 allele and where wine is the beverage. At present, there is no indication that light-to-moderate alcohol drinking would be harmful to cognition and dementia, and attempts to define what might be deemed beneficial levels of alcohol intake in terms of cognitive performance would be highly problematic and contentious. Copyright

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Available from: Bruno P. Imbimbo, Mar 24, 2014
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    • "The so-called French paradox arises from the epidemiological fact that French people, despite their indulgence to a high fat diet, show a relative low incidence of cardiovascular diseases (Renaud and De Lorgeril, 1992). Several epidemiological studies have shown that moderate wine consumption can be effective in slowing down age-related cognitive decline (Wang et al., 2006; Panza et al., 2012; Corona et al., 2013). A possible explanation of this phenomenon has been linked to the national high consumption of wine (20–30 g/day) (Renaud and De Lorgeril, 1992). "
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    • "Abbreviations: MMSE mini-mental state examination, BMI body mass index, HDL high-density lipoprotein, LDL low-density lipoprotein, APO-E apolipoprotein E a One standard drink equals 12 g of pure alcohol (Carlsson et al. 2003), and alcohol intake between 0 and 1.0 g is excluded from this categorization (Stampfer et al. 2005) AGE (2014) 36:243–249 245 no more than two drinks per day (e.g., Carlsson et al. 2003; Panza et al. 2012). "
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    • "Light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with better vascular outcomes,34 while both abstinence and heavy alcohol consumption are associated with higher risk of vascular disease,35 which, in turn, may increase the risk of cognitive impairment.36 Furthermore, heavy alcohol consumption has detrimental short- and long-term effects on the brain,7,37 including direct neurotoxic effect,7 proinflammatory effects,7,38 and indirect impact via cerebrovascular disease35 and vitamin deficiency.39 "
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