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Cheers! Let's Drink for Cognitive Function!

Posted Mar 11 2011 8:08am
In the movie industry, sequels to successful films are a common way to garner more revenue.  So I find it ironic that this is the 3rd post this week that's a follow up to another post that I've written about recently, this time regarding alcohol and heart disease .  In this particular variation on the alcohol theme, authors recently concluded that low-to-moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with a lower risk of dementia .

More specifically, the authors followed 3,202 participants over 3 years via detailed assessments of alcohol consumption and Structured Interview for Diagnosis of Dementia of Alzheimer type, Multi-infarct Dementia and Dementia of other Etiology.  Mood disorder was assessed via the short version of the Geriatric Depression Scale.  They also evaluated functional ability via the an 8 item scale of the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living.  
The biggest question always raised in these types of studies is whether the specific form of alcohol matters.  In other words, does it matter whether someone drinks beer mostly, or wine mostly, or mixed drinks mostly.  It turns out that regardless of the type of alcohol consumed, the risk of dementia is lower compared to teetotalers.

Do recall that this is an observational study, demonstrating only an association.  It is not a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study that demonstrates causation.  More importantly, those who drank low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol also tended to be healthier, both physically & mentally.  So who wants to volunteer for the study of causation as a follow up to this study of association?

In the meantime, it's always good to know that this study's findings are not a fluke but merely confirm similar conclusions published 4 years ago  and again just 3 years ago in a systematic review of the literature .

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