Low to moderate drinking tied to better cognition in elderly
Low to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with better global cognition scores, states a study. Previous studies yielded mixed findings while examining the association of low to moderate drinking with various cognitive functions.
Researchers have just reported that light to moderate drinking may preserve brain function in older age.The new study has been published in the Journal JAMA Network Open.
Light to moderate drinking is defined as fewer than eight drinks per week for women and 15 drinks or fewer per week among men.
The present study investigated the associations between low to moderate alcohol drinking and cognitive function. They studied the trajectories or rates of change in cognitive function from middle age to older age among US adults.
The study was a prospective cohort study. Participants were taken from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) which is a nationally representative sample of US adults, with mean (SD) follow-up of 9.1 ± 3.1 years. The study was conducted between 1996 and 2008. About 19887 participants who had their cognitive functions measured in the HRS and who participated in at least 3 biennial surveys were included in the study.
The data analysis was conducted from June to November 2019. The main outcomes and measures of the study were the following:
• Trajectories and annual rates of change for the cognitive domains of mental status.
• word recall, and vocabulary.
• The total cognitive score, which was the sum of the mental status and word recall scores.
Participants were clustered into 2 cognitive function trajectories for each cognition measure assessed based on their scores at baseline and through at least 3 biennial surveys. They were:
• a consistently low trajectory (representing low cognitive scores throughout the study period).
• a consistently high trajectory (representing high cognitive scores throughout the study period).
From the study the authors found the following:
• The mean (SD) age of 19 887 participants was 61.8 (10.2) years.
• Most of the HRS participants were women which was 11 943 [60.1%].
• Of them white race/ethnicity were 16 950 [85.2%].
• Low to moderate drinking i.e.<8 drinks per week for women and <15 drinks per week for men was significantly associated with a consistently high cognitive function trajectory and a lower rate of cognitive decline.
• Compared with never drinkers, low to moderate drinkers were less likely to have a consistently low trajectory for total cognitive function, mental status, word recall, and vocabulary.
• In addition, low to moderate drinking was associated with decreased annual rates of total cognitive function decline, mental status, word recall, and vocabulary.
• A significant racial/ethnic difference was observed for trajectories of mental status (P = .02 for interaction), in which low to moderate drinking was associated with lower odds of having a consistently low trajectory for white participants but not for black participants
the dosage of alcohol consumed had a U-shaped association with all cognitive function domains for all participants, with an optimal dose of 10 to 14 drinks per week.
The authors thus concluded that low to moderate alcohol drinking was associated with better global cognition scores, and these associations appeared stronger for white participants than for black participants. They also added that further studies examining the mechanisms underlying the association between alcohol drinking and cognition in middle-aged or older adults are needed.
To read more about the study, please click the following link: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.7922