28 january 2014

Alcohol consumption and cognitive decline in early old age

OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between alcohol consumption in midlife and subsequent cognitive decline.

METHODS: Data are from 5,054 men and 2,099 women from the Whitehall II cohort study with a mean age of 56 years (range 44-69 years) at first cognitive assessment. Alcohol consumption was assessed 3 times in the 10 years preceding the first cognitive assessment (1997-1999). Cognitive tests were repeated in 2002-2004 and 2007-2009. The cognitive test battery included 4 tests assessing memory and executive function; a global cognitive score summarized performances across these tests. Linear mixed models were used to assess the association between alcohol consumption and cognitive decline, expressed as z scores (mean = 0, SD = 1).

RESULTS: In men, there were no differences in cognitive decline among alcohol abstainers, quitters, and light or moderate alcohol drinkers (/=36 g/d was associated with faster decline in all cognitive domains compared with consumption between 0.1 and 19.9 g/d: mean difference (95% confidence interval) in 10-year decline in the global cognitive score = -0.10 (-0.16, -0.04), executive function = -0.06 (-0.12, 0.00), and memory = -0.16 (-0.26, -0.05). In women, compared with those drinking 0.1 to 9.9 g/d of alcohol, 10-year abstainers showed faster decline in the global cognitive score (-0.21 [-0.37, -0.04]) and executive function (-0.17 [-0.32, -0.01]).

CONCLUSIONS: Excessive alcohol consumption in men (>/=36 g/d) was associated with faster cognitive decline compared with light to moderate alcohol consumption.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Sabia S.; Elbaz A.; Britton A.; Bell S.; Dugravot A.; Shipley M.; Kivimaki M.; Singh-Manoux A.
  • Issue

    Neurology / pages 332-339 / volume 82
  • Published Date

    28 january 2014