Risk of Dementia and Alcohol and Wine Consumption: a Review of Recent Results
The term dementia refers to a clinical syndrome of acquired intellectual disturbances produced by brain dysfunction. Dementia may result from a wide variety of disorders, including degenerative (e.g. Alzheimer's disease, AD), vascular (e.g. multi-infarct dementia), and traumatic (e.g. head injury). Long-term abuse of alcohol is related to the development of the Wernicke-Korsakoff's syndrome or alcohol dementia. However, light to moderate alcohol intake might also reduce the risk of dementia and AD. In Bordeaux (France), a population-based prospective study found that subjects drinking 3 to 4 standard glasses of wine per day (> 250 and up to 500 ml), categorized as moderate drinkers, the crude odds ratio (OR) was 0.18 for incident dementia (p < 0.01) and 0.25 for Alzheimer's disease (p < 0.03), as compared to the non-drinkers. After adjusting for age, sex, education, occupation, baseline cognitive performances and other possible confounders, the ORs were respectively 0.19 (p < 0.01) and 0.28 (p < 0.05). In the 922 mild drinkers (< 1 to 2 glasses per day) there was a negative association only with AD, after adjustment (OR = 0.55; p < 0.05). The inverse relationship between moderate wine drinking and incident dementia was explained neither by known predictors of dementia nor by medical, psychological or socio-familial factors. These results were confirmed from data of the Rotterdam study. Light-to-moderate drinking (one to three drinks per day) was significantly associated with a lower risk of any dementia (hazard ratio 0.58 [95 % CI 0.38-0.90]) and vascular dementia (hazard ratio 0.29 [0.09-0.93]). No evidence that the relation between alcohol and dementia varied by type of alcoholic beverage was found. Stroke constitutes one of the most common causes of serious functional impairment in developed countries. Ischaemic strokes represent about 80% of all strokes. Several studies have been published and the overall conclusion is that heavy drinking is a risk factor for most stroke subtypes. Regular light to moderate drinking seemed to be associated with a decreased risk for ischaemic stroke.