Two studies show a correlation between drinking behaviors, including binge drinking, and impaired cognition and memory in the elderly.
VANCOUVER—Moderate alcohol consumption or binge drinking in late life may increase the risk of cognitive impairment, according to two studies presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. The studies, one conducted in older adults and one in older women, shed additional light on how alcohol use may affect the likelihood of dementia onset.
Moderate Drinking Late in Life May Increase Women’s Dementia Risk
Women who drank more heavily earlier in life than at baseline, women who drank moderately in late life, and nondrinking women who began drinking in late life had an increased risk of cognitive impairment, according to Tina Hoang, MSPH, Research Associate at NCIRE/The Veterans Health Research Institute in San Francisco. Moderate drinking (defined as consuming seven to 14 drinks per week) did not protect older women against cognitive impairment.
Ms. Hoang and her colleagues studied 1,306 women age 65 or older in a prospective cohort study. Participants reported the frequency of their current and past alcohol consumption at baseline, and the researchers reassessed participants’ alcohol use at years six, eight, 10, and 16 of the study. Participants were followed for 20 years. Clinically significant cognitive impairment, including mild cognitive impairment and dementia, was adjudicated by an expert panel at the end of the study.