Alcohol Intake and Risk of Dementia

Jose A. Luchsinger, MD; Ming-Xin Tang, PhD; Maliha Siddiqui, MPH; Steven Shea, MD; Richard Mayeux, MD


J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004;52(4) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Objectives: To examine the association between intake of alcoholic beverages and risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and dementia associated with stroke (DAS) in a cohort of elderly persons from New York City.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: The Washington Heights Inwood-Columbia Aging Project.
Participants: Nine hundred eighty community-dwelling individuals aged 65 and older without dementia at baseline and with data on alcohol intake recruited between 1991 and 1996 and followed annually.
Measurements: Intake of alcohol was measured using a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire at baseline. Subjects were followed annually, and incident dementia was diagnosed using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria and classified as AD or DAS.
Results: After 4 years of follow-up, 260 individuals developed dementia (199 AD, 61 DAS). After adjusting for age, sex, apolipoprotein E (APOE)-ε4 status, education, and other alcoholic beverages, only intake of up to three daily servings of wine was associated with a lower risk of AD (hazard ratio= 0.55, 95% confidence interval= 0.34-0.89). Intake of liquor, beer, and total alcohol was not associated with a lower risk of AD. Stratified analyses by the APOE-ε4 allele revealed that the association between wine consumption and lower risk of AD was confined to individuals without the APOE-ε4 allele.
Conclusion: Consumption of up to three servings of wine daily is associated with a lower risk of AD in elderly individuals without the APOEε-4 allele.

With the aging of the population, the prevalence of dementia is expected to increase significantly. There is no established treatment or preventive measure for dementia, but delaying its onset could significantly decrease its prevalence, with important public health implications.[1] Moderate alcohol intake has been associated with a decreased risk of dementia, mostly in European studies,[2,3,4,5] and there are conflicting data on whether moderate alcohol intake or intake of particular alcoholic beverages is related to a decreased risk of dementia. There is a paucity of data on the relationship between alcohol intake and the incidence of dementia in the elderly in the United States, who may have drinking patterns different from Europeans. This study was designed to examine the association between the intake of different types of alcoholic beverages and dementia in a cohort of persons aged 65 and older from northern Manhattan.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: