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ICAD: Reduced Dementia Risk Linked to Alcohol Intake

Eight to 14 drinks weekly associated with nearly 40 percent decreased risk of dementia

MONDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Moderate alcohol intake reduces the risk of dementia in cognitively normal older adults by almost 40 percent, according to research presented at the 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, held July 11 to 16 in Vienna, Austria.

Kaycee M. Sink, M.D., of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues evaluated adults without dementia (75 years and older) who were classified as cognitively normal or with mild cognitive impairment at the beginning of the study. Participants self-reported weekly alcohol consumption as none (42.6 percent), 1 to 7 drinks (light, 38.2 percent), 8 to 14 drinks (moderate, 9.4 percent), or more than 14 drinks (heavy, 9.8 percent).

The researchers note that, over a median follow-up of six years, 523 new cases of dementia were diagnosed. For individuals who were cognitively normal at baseline, moderate alcohol intake was linked to a 37 percent decreased risk of dementia after adjusting for several factors, including patient demographics, smoking, comorbidities, depression, social activity, and baseline cognitive function. With any degree of alcohol consumption, participants with baseline mild cognitive impairment experienced more rapid rates of cognitive decline than cognitively normal individuals. Participants with mild cognitive impairment and heavy alcohol consumption had a 1.84-fold increased risk of dementia versus those with mild cognitive impairment and no alcohol consumption.

"Our findings suggest mild to moderate alcohol intake may reduce the risk of dementia," Sink concluded in a statement, adding that this effect did not seem to be true for individuals who already experienced mild cognitive impairment. "Current recommendations not to exceed one drink per day for women and two for men are supported by these results."

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