Bottom Line: This observational study examined alcohol consumption and the risk of dementia and cognitive decline in older adults with or without mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The study analyzed 3,021 adults (72 and older) who were free of dementia (2,548 were without MCI and 473 with MCI). During about six years of follow-up, there were 512 cases of dementia, including 348 cases of Alzheimer disease. Among those adults without MCI, no amount of alcohol consumption was significantly associated with higher risk for dementia compared with drinking less than one drink per week. Among those adults with MCI, the risk of dementia according to numbers of alcoholic drinks per week wasn't statistically significant, although it appeared to be highest for drinking more than 14 drinks per week compared with less than one drink. The association between alcohol intake and cognitive decline was affected by the presence of MCI at the study start. Difference in scores reflecting cognitive decline at follow-up by alcohol consumption were statistically significant only among those with MCI at baseline, with the biggest decline associated with more than 14 drinks per week. Limitations of the study include self-reported alcohol consumption. The findings warrant further study and physicians should address the drinking behavior when caring for older patients.
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Authors: Majken K. Jensen, Ph.D., Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and coauthors
Editor's Note: The article contains conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
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