Social Drinking Keeps Alzheimer's Away

Alzheimers disease risk reduced 23 percent with just two drinks

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Don't hesitate to lift your glass for a toast. Social drinking can significantly reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia.

Moderate drinkers who consume one or two alcoholic drinks a day are 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer's disease.

"Consider drinking a glass of wine with dinner."

Edward Neafsey, a professor in the department of molecular pharmacology and therapeutics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, stressed that it is not recommended that nondrinkers start drinking. However, he said moderate drinking can be beneficial.

Researchers defined moderate drinking as two drinks per day for men and one daily for women. Heavy drinking of three to five drinks per day was associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, though the finding was not considered statistically significant.

Wine was found to be more beneficial than beer or liquor, though that finding was based on few studies since many previous research did not distinguish type of alcohol consumed. In the meta-analysis investigators reviewed 143 studies dating from 1977 including more than 365,000 participants. Of those papers, 74 calculated the risk for drinkers versus nondrinkers.

In addition, researchers found that moderate drinking had a protective quality even after adjustment for age, education, gender and smoking status. The benefit was found in 14 of 19 countries including the United States. In three of the remaining five, a benefit was found, but it was not considered statistically significant.

It was unclear why drinking may be beneficial, though one theory suggests that alcohol consumption boosts good HDL cholesterol, improving blood flow and brain metabolism.

Researchers, however, suspect that small amounts of alcohol may make brain cells more fit. This is because moderate amounts of alcohol stresses cells and encourages them to toughen up to cope with future major stresses that could cause dementia.

Researchers do not suggest nondrinkers begin drinking, especially teens and pregnant women. Other simple ways to cut dementia risk includes exercise, education, gardening and a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and cereal, they wrote.

The research was published in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 16, 2011
Last Updated:
August 20, 2011