Most studies in Caucasian populations showed that current drinkers with light to moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages reduced their risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. However, there is limited information concerning the association between alcohol consumption and cognitive function among older adults in Chinese populations. Recently, researchers from the University of Hong Kong carried out a cross-sectional study of 314 Chinese older participants with an average age of 79.9 years. Participants’ socio-demographic information, other diseases, alcohol drinking habits, and a Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) for cognitive function were obtained by a face-to-face interview.
Source: Association between alcohol consumption and cognitive impairment in Southern Chinese older adult Chan KK, Chiu KC, Chu LW. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2010;25:1272-9.
The average weekly alcohol consumption in the cognitively impaired group was significantly higher than that of the normal cognition group [mean (SD): 861.89 (673.03) versus 241.21 (276.26) grams per week respectively. Drinkers with light to moderate alcohol consumption were associated with higher MMSE scores than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers. Logistic regression analyses showed that heavy drinkers (>400g alcohol for men and >280g for women) were associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment (OR = 4.99), while light drinkers and moderated drinkers (< 400g for men and < 280 g for women) were associated with reduced risks (OR = 0.32; OR = 0.17 respectively). Exercise and age were independent protective and risk factors respectively.
The authors conclude that heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment while light to moderate drinking is associated with reduced risk.