August 15, 2018 – Alcohol and Alzheimer’s


Anchor lead: Quantity and timing of alcohol consumption may affect Alzheimer’s development, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Drinking moderately in your middle years may protect you against Alzheimer’s disease later, a recent study in the British Medical Journal found. Sevil Yasar, whose editorial accompanied the publication and a neurologist at Johns Hopkins, describes the study.

Yasar: It basically looked at people in their thirties and forties and followed them for 23 years, and looked at how their reported alcohol consumption in midlife can affect their risk for dementia in their later life. When you consume a larger amount, anything over 14 units, that’s like five glasses or ten glasses of wine a week, then you had a higher risk of dementia. When you abstain, less than one unit or you’re complete abstainer, then your risk for dementia in late life also increased, and by quite substantially,  by more than 40%. :33

Yasar says the study can’t identify why someone who abstains is at higher risk, but one hypothesis is that moderate alcohol intake may act as an anti-inflammatory, an idea she hopes will be tested further. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.