Latest scientific news 03 August 2016

Moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages may be associated with higher cognitive function

This study suggests that moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages at an older age may be beneficial for cognitive health.

Preliminary evidence suggests that moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages may protect against cognitive decline and dementia. It is uncertain, however, which are the most beneficial patterns of drinking. US scientists examined how drinking habits, characterized by volume and frequency of intake, relate to cognitive function in older age. The study population included 1624 older adults (mean age ± SD = 73.2 ± 9.3 years) community-dwelling participants of the Rancho Bernardo Study based in southern California. Individuals who consumed moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages scored higher on tests of global cognition (*), executive function (*) and immediate visual memory than lifetime abstainers and former drinkers did. Frequency of alcohol intake was also related to cognitive function. Regular intake of alcoholic beverages (2 days per month to 4 days per week) was associated with better cognitive performance compared to less or more frequent drinking. It was concluded that beneficial cognitive effects of alcohol intake may be achieved with low levels of drinking that are unlikely to be associated with adverse effects in an aging population.

(*) global cognition (assesses orientation, attention, language and memory) and executive function (examines semantic fluency, drawing lines to connect a sequence of letters and numbers)

Reas ET, Laughlin GA, Kritz-Silverstein D, et al. Moderate, Regular Alcohol Consumption is Associated with Higher Cognitive Function in Older Community-Dwelling Adults. J Prev Alzheimers Dis. 2016;3:105-113.

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