Associations Between Dimensions Of Alcohol Use And Specific Brain Functions
The systematic reviews that assessed the relationship between alcohol use and the resulting effects on brain structures and specific brain functioning assessed diverse associations. Verbaten tested the hypothesis that low to moderate drinking had beneficial effects on brain structure studies) and cognitive performance . In the MRI studies, a linear negative association was observed between the volume of alcohol consumed and brain volume and grey matter, and a positive linear association was observed between the volume of alcohol consumed and white matter volumes . However, when restricted to people aged 65years and older, low to moderate alcohol use was related to grade of white matter integrity and cognition in a curvilinear manner . A recently published large-scale study with a follow-up at 30years, which measured alcohol use every 5years and involved multiple MRI images and cognitive tests, concluded that alcohol use, even at light or moderate levels, was associated with adverse brain outcomes, including hippocampal atrophy , thereby corroborating the general results of the systematic review by Verbaten for people under 65years of age.
Scope Of The Systematic Search
Following the PRISMA guidelines , a systematic search was performed by using OVID to identify all systematic reviews published from January 2000 to October 2017 on Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO and by using a combination of keywords and Medical Subject Headings terms related to alcohol use, dementia, AD, brain function, memory, and cognitive health. Additional file : Tables S1 to S3 in the Additional file outline the exact search strategy used for each database a PRISMA checklist is also provided in the Additional file . The World Alzheimer Reports were additionally used to identify potential systematic reviews . A systematic search of grey literature was performed via Google but provided no contributions which fulfilled our inclusion criteria . It is highly unlikely that systematic reviews and meta-analyses would not be published in scientific journals .
Alcohol And Alzheimers: New Study Shows Link Between Alcohol And The Disease
Alcohol and Alzheimers: New Study Shows Link Between Alcohol and the Disease
There has been some controversy over whether drinking alcohol has detrimental effects on brain health. Some studies indicate that drinking small amounts may be part of a brain-healthy diet, while other studies show that even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk for Alzheimers disease.
The latest alcohol and Alzheimers study reveals that it may interrupt the bodys natural ability to clear amyloid plaques from the brain. Read more about the research and the link between alcohol and the disease.
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What Is The Current Advice
According to the UK chief medical officers, we should stick to drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. This keeps health risks to a low and safe level.
- Large glass of wine – 3 units
- Pint of higher-strength lager or beer – 3 units
- Standard glass of wine – 2 units
- Pint of lower-strength lager or beer – 2 units
- Bottle of lager or beer – 1.7 units
- Single shot of spirits – 1 unit
Evidence That Drinking Prevents These Disorders Is Relatively Small
While some may have rejoiced in the news that their favorite pastime was keeping their brains healthy, this study showed that those who had just a few drinks each day reaped the benefits. The survey followed 3,000 senior citizens in Germany for three years, and the resulting data showed that those who drank small amounts of alcohol were 42% less likely to have Alzheimer’s and 29% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, WebMD explains.
Eventually, those performing the study concluded that any amount of alcohol made a difference but constantly knocking drinks back can still be extremely harmful to your physical and mental health. Anne Corbett, research manager of the United Kingdom-based Alzheimer’s Society explains, “What is important is that this is not seen as a green light to hit the bottle. As well as many other health dangers, heavy drinking has been linked to an increased risk of dementia. The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly,” WebMD reports.
As far as using alcohol as your sole preventative measure, you’ll likely find it to be less than effective. However, if you get enough nutrients from your diet, exercise, and keep your brain sharp, adding alcoholic beverages may not be as detrimental. According to one study, it may even help!
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Is Moderate Alcohol Consumption Safe For The Brain
Some research has indicated that individuals who drank in moderation were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia than those who consumed zero alcohol.
Some protective effects of alcohol have been seen on the brain, such as reduced thickness of blood and increased levels of healthy cholesterol in the body. Both of these effects have been suggested to help lower the risk of developing dementia.
However, the evidence produced by studies that link moderate alcohol consumption with a lower likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease does have some flaws. For example, many of these studies classified ‘non-drinkers’ as both people who have given up alcohol consumption due to health reasons and lifetime non-drinkers.
These two subsets of people are actually quite different as people who have given up drinking for health reasons may have already had alcohol-induced brain damage, so are more likely to be similar to people in the heavy-drinking category than lifetime non-drinkers.
Therefore the mixing of these distinct populations into one study group may have skewed the results and lead to conclusions which overstate the potential risk of not drinking alcohol to developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
What Are The Symptoms
This can vary from person to person, but generally symptoms will include:
- Impaired ability to learn things
- Personality changes
- Problems with memory
- Difficulty with clear and logical thinking on tasks which require planning, organising, common sense judgement and social skills
- Problems with balance
Generally skills learned earlier in life and old habits such as language and gestures tend to be relatively unaffected.
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Does Drinking Alcohol Really Protect Against Dementia Not So Fast
The alcohol research has been a bit maddening in recent yearsone study seems to tell us that moderate drinking is beneficial for health, and the next that it will kill us. A new study making the rounds appears to suggest that both heavy drinking and abstinence are linked to dementia over the years, while moderate drinking is linked to reduced risk.
There are a couple of reasons why we shouldnt rejoice just yet: one is that the study may appear to show a trend that doesnt totally exist. The second is to keep in mind that alcohol has been shown to cause a host of other health problems that are nothing to sneeze at. So moderate drinking may not be so “healthy” after all.
The study, published in the journal The British Medical Journal, used data the decades-long Whitehall II study of thousands of British civil servants. The team looked at people who entered the study in 1985, when they were between the ages of 35 and 55. They periodically reported on their drinking habits, along with other health and lifestyle variables. The outcome of interest was the development of dementia over the next two to three decades.
About 9,000 participants made up the final group, and of these, 400 developed dementia. The researchers were particularly interested in correlating long-term abstinence as well as decreased consumption over time with dementia risk.
Wine May Have Particularly Protective Effects Against Dementia
While it seems as though drinking any type of alcohol in moderation may be more effective in terms of reducing your dementia risk than abstaining completely, wine may be your best bet in terms of staying cognitively fit.
According to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, drinking wine conferred protection against the development of Alzheimer’s disease in particular, with the effects being particularly pronounced among those with a family history of dementia.
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Can Coffee And Alcohol Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Its now well known that to prevent Alzheimers disease and other neurodegenerative illnesses, a healthy lifestyle is essential regular exercise, a healthy weight, not smoking, eating a Mediterranean diet, etc.
But what about specific foods? Is there evidence to suggest that consuming coffee or alcohol, for example, could help prevention? Ill answer the question in more detail in this article.
Symptoms Of Alcohol Dementia
There are several symptoms which can be easily identified and might indicate that one suffers from this health problem. For example, headaches, frequent anger episodes, mood swings, slurred speech as well as memory gaps are serious signs of alcoholic dementia. Having regular alcohol blackout symptoms while drinking is also dangerous to the human brain and acts as a contributing factor to this condition.
Elderly alcoholic dementia is a closely-related condition which affects elderly people, and the health effects of alcohol are worse when coupled with other neurological illnesses such as Alzheimers disease or Parkinsons disease. This combination of brain issues might be incurable and are known as alcohol-induced psychosis.
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Drinking This Delicious Beverage Daily May Actually Fend Off Dementia
According to a recent meta-analysis of previously conducted all-cause dementia studies, consuming a glass of wine a day can potentially reduce ones risk of developing cognitive illness later in life.
Although the exact mechanisms were not revealed in any of the featured ACD reports, moderate alcohol consumption was consistently linked to reduced dementia risk.
Academicians have since come out on the back of the report with speculations with respect to the reasoning. Some have cited the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of polyphenols found in red wines.
Ethanol has been similarly studied to induce the release of acetylcholine in the brain, which may improve cognitive function.
Red grape polyphenols are endowed with a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential but some issues, such as polyphenol bioavailability, activity of metabolites, and interaction with microbiota, deserve deeper studies,the authors of a new report write.
Gallic acid, which the body produces when consuming wine, may be able to block the aggregation of beta-amyloid in the brain before the onset of dementia symptoms.
The best way to reap wines benefits is to drink moderately, with food, throughout the course of the week. Were not saying to go out and drink to prevent dementia. However, if you decide that youre going to have wine with your meal every night, you can know that youre getting a side benefit.
Epidemiological Studies Of Electronic Health Data
A recent retrospective study of hospital discharge records encompassing about 80% of all discharge diagnoses in France established an alcohol use disorder as major risk factor for developing any form of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. The study set the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder in the patient discharge records in relation with a later diagnosis of a dementia. While this approach relies on hospital diagnoses with probable underestimation of both dementia and alcohol use disorders and although the amount of alcohol consumed could not be measured, the sample size and setting corroborates the high external validity of the results. A Danish study using hospital admissions records and a German study using general health practitioners’ treatment records replicated these results.,
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So What’s The Link With Dementia
Research shows that heavy drinking can increase the risk of developing dementia.
Alcohol abuse is toxic to the brain and can damage memory. It has also been shown to accelerate vascular brain damage. In other words, it’s bad for your brain.
The Lancet Public Health has published new research from France on more than one million adults with dementia. Researchers found that being hospitalised with alcohol dependence or a health issue caused by continuous heavy drinking was a strong risk factor for the progressive brain condition, especially in the under-65s.
Their risk of dementia was three times greater than other people’s.
But it’s difficult to know whether it was a direct cause or just one factor among many.
Heavy drinkers are more likely to be smokers, have depression and lead unhealthy lives, which increases the risk of dementia.
Can Alcohol Really Help Prevent Dementia And Alzheimers Disease
Disorders that plague many people over the age of 65, dementia and Alzheimers change the lives of millions of Americans each year. While similar, these disorders have slight differences. General mental decline and memory loss is categorized as dementia, while Alzheimers is the actual disease that it falls under, according to the Alzheimers Association. The disease accounts for nearly 60%-80% of dementia diagnoses, the organization explains. Since Alzheimers slowly worsens over time, many are caught off guard when they experience symptoms like dementia.
Over the years, as both dementia and Alzheimers have claimed countless lives, various cures and preventative tactics have taken hold in public discourse. Measures like eating certain foods, including blueberries and nuts, and engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as puzzles and staying active are considered to be extremely beneficial in keeping the mind and body healthy, Healthline explains. But, beyond the classic preventative measures, a study conducted in 2011 seems to provide a different option.
WebMD notes that a study published by Age and Aging found that a group of Germans aged 75 and older were 60% less likely to get dementia when they drank two to three alcoholic beverages per day. This news came as a shock to many, since heavy consumption can also lead to a condition called alcoholic dementia, VeryWell Health notes.
What Is Alcohol Related Dementia
Alcohol related dementia, as the name suggests, is a form of dementia related to the excessive drinking of alcohol. This affects memory, learning and other mental functions. Korsakoffs syndrome and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome are particular forms of alcohol related brain injury which may be related to alcohol related dementia.
What Can You Do
Although there is no effective treatment or proven prevention for Alzheimers and related dementias, in general, leading a healthy lifestyle may help address risk factors that have been associated with these diseases.
Researchers cannot say for certain whether making the above lifestyle changes will protect against dementia, but these changes are good for your health and are all part of making healthy choices as you age.
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Abstaining From Alcohol Was Also Associated With Increased Risk
If you’re thinking of giving up alcohol entirely to protect your cognitive faculties as you age, you may want to reconsider. According to the BMJ study’s authors, teetotalers were at a higher risk of developing dementia than those who drank in moderation.
However, the study’s authors posited that it wasn’t just the lack of alcohol that contributed to abstainers’ increased dementia risk. “Multistate models showed that part of the excess risk of dementia in abstainers was attributable to the greater risk of cardiometabolic disease in this group,” the study’s authors explained.
Understanding Alcohol Use And Dementia: From Diagnosis To Patient Education
An estimated 50 million people currently have dementia, and projected prevalence rates for the years 2030 and 2050 are 82 million and 152 million, respectively, according to the World Health Organization.1 This trend underscores the need to identify potentially modifiable risk factors to inform dementia prevention and treatment efforts. To that end, accumulating research is exploring the link between alcohol consumption and the risk of developing dementia.
While results vary across studies, findings consistently point to an elevated dementia risk with both high levels of alcohol intake and abstinence. A 2021 meta-analysis of 6 cohort studies demonstrated that the consumption of more than 14.0 alcoholic drinks per week was linked to a higher risk of progression to dementia .2
In a 2018 cohort study of 9,087 participants aged 35-55 years, analyses of trajectories from midlife to early old age revealed a higher risk for dementia with long-term abstinence from alcohol , reduced consumption , and long-term consumption of more than 14.0 drinks per week compared to long-term intake of 1.0-14.0 drinks per week.3
In research published in September 2019 in JAMA Network Open, Koch et al investigated the risk for dementia and cognitive decline in a cohort of 3,021 individuals with or without mild cognitive impairment who self-reported details regarding alcohol use.4
What does the evidence suggest thus far regarding the association between alcohol consumption and the risk for dementia?
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Comparison With Other Studies
We, as with others,7 observed an increased risk of dementia in alcohol abstainers, a finding subject to much debate. As studies usually assess alcohol consumption only once, excess risk might be driven by the inclusion of former drinkers in the same group as abstainers.7 Our analyses using repeat data on alcohol consumption across midlife suggest that former drinking might not explain the excess dementia risk in abstainers, although we cannot exclude the possibility that those who report alcohol abstinence in midlife were heavy drinkers in young adulthood or misreported their alcohol consumption. We accounted for several sociodemographic and health related characteristics in the analysis, but residual confounding cannot be excluded as an explanation for the higher risk of dementia among abstainers. Indeed, this group is particular in that it is composed mainly of women from the lower socioeconomic group with higher prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors and disease at baseline, a pattern that has also been observed in other studies.3537