Latest scientific news 05 December 2014

Intake of alcoholic beverages might have a positive impact on Parkinson’s disease

The intake of alcoholic beverages might lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Wine does not seem to show any specific beneficial effects.

The causes of Parkinson’s disease involve both genetic and environmental factors, but the genetic factor only accounts for a small part of all causes. Actually, previous studies showed that behaviors such as smoking and coffee drinking were associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, up-to-date results from the observational studies on the consumption of alcoholic beverages and the risk of Parkinson’s disease are not consistent.

In this meta-analysis of 32 studies, involving 677,550 subjects with an average age of more than 40 years, Chinese researchers intended to quantitatively assess the effect of alcohol consumption on Parkinson’s disease risk. The results show that the intake of alcoholic beverages is inversely associated with the risk of Parkinson’s disease, which decreases in average by 25% for individuals consuming the highest amount of alcohol (>30g/day) compared to abstainers. Furthermore, this association was true for males but not for females. The risk of Parkinson’s disease decreased by 5% for every 1 drink/day increment of alcoholic beverage, in a linear dose-response manner. Regarding the types of alcoholic beverages, a significant association with beer was observed but not with wine or liquor. Indeed, the risk was reduced by 33% for beer drinkers. A possible explanation might be the uric acid content in beer.

This meta-analysis indicates that the intake of alcoholic beverages, particularly beer, might lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease. The authors caution that the heterogeneity of the 32 population or a potential confounding related to individuals who smoke and drink coffee present methodological limits, since such habits might have already a positive impact on Parkinson’s disease.

Zhang et al., Alcohol intake and risk of Parkinson’s disease: A meta-analysis of observational studies, Mov Disorder, 29 (6),2014, p.819-822

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.