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      Alcohol Drinking and Cognitive Functions: Findings from the Cardiovascular Risk Factors Aging and Dementia (CAIDE) Study

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          Background: Moderate alcohol drinking is suggested to be beneficial for cognitive functions, but the results of previous studies have varied greatly. Little is known about the effects of midlife alcohol drinking on the cognitive functions later in life. Methods: Participants were derived from random, population-based samples studied in Eastern Finland in 1972, 1977, 1982, or 1987. A total of 1,341 participants were reexamined in 1998, after an average follow-up period of 21 years, at ages 65–79 years. Results: The participants who did not drink alcohol at midlife had a poorer performance in episodic memory, psychomotor speed, and executive function in late life as compared with infrequent and frequent drinkers, adjusted for sociodemographic and vascular factors. Also late-life nondrinkers had poorer psychomotor speed and executive function. These findings were evident especially among nonsmokers. Further, no interactions between apolipoprotein E4 and alcohol or sex and alcohol were found. Conclusions: Alcohol drinking both at midlife and later is favorably related to the function in several cognitive domains, including episodic memory, psychomotor speed, and executive function, in late life. However, it is not clear whether the association is causal, what is the possible mechanism, and what would be a safe limit of drinking for the best cognitive function.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Effects of moderate alcohol consumption on cognitive function in women.

          The adverse effects of excess alcohol intake on cognitive function are well established, but the effect of moderate consumption is uncertain. Between 1995 and 2001, we evaluated cognitive function in 12,480 participants in the Nurses' Health Study who were 70 to 81 years old, with follow-up assessments in 11,102 two years later. The level of alcohol consumption was ascertained regularly beginning in 1980. We calculated multivariate-adjusted mean cognitive scores and multivariate-adjusted risks of cognitive impairment (defined as the lowest 10 percent of the scores) and a substantial decline in cognitive function over time (defined as a change that was in the worst 10 percent of the distribution of the decline). We also stratified analyses according to the apolipoprotein E genotype in a subgroup of women. After multivariate adjustment, moderate drinkers (those who consumed less than 15.0 g of alcohol per day [about one drink]) had better mean cognitive scores than nondrinkers. Among moderate drinkers, as compared with nondrinkers, the relative risk of impairment was 0.77 on our test of general cognition (95 percent confidence interval, 0.67 to 0.88) and 0.81 on the basis of a global cognitive score combining the results of all tests (95 percent confidence interval, 0.70 to 0.93). The results for cognitive decline were similar; for example, on our test of general cognition, the relative risk of a substantial decline in performance over a two-year period was 0.85 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.74 to 0.98) among moderate drinkers, as compared with nondrinkers. There were no significant associations between higher levels of drinking (15.0 to 30.0 g per day) and the risk of cognitive impairment or decline. There were no significant differences in risks according to the beverage (e.g., wine or beer) and no interaction with the apolipoprotein E genotype. Our data suggest that in women, up to one drink per day does not impair cognitive function and may actually decrease the risk of cognitive decline. Copyright 2005 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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            Alcohol drinking in middle age and subsequent risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia in old age: a prospective population based study.

            To evaluate the relation between midlife alcohol consumption and mild cognitive impairment and dementia in old age, and the possible modification of this relation by apolipoprotein E. Prospective, population based study. Populations of Kuopio and Joensuu, eastern Finland. Of 1464 men and women aged 65-79 years randomly selected from population based samples studied in 1972 or 1977, 1018 (70%) were re-examined in 1998 (after an average follow up of 23 years). Mild cognitive impairment and dementia in old age. Participants who drank no alcohol at midlife and those who drank alcohol frequently were both twice as likely to have mild cognitive impairment in old age as those participants who drank alcohol infrequently. The risk of dementia related to alcohol drinking was modified by the presence of the apolipoprotein e4 allele. The carriers of apolipoprotein e4 had an increased risk of dementia with increasing alcohol consumption: compared with non-carriers who never drank, the odds ratio for carriers who never drank was 0.6, for infrequent drinkers it was 2.3, and for frequent drinkers was 3.6 (the overall interaction term "drinking frequency(*)apolipoprotein e4" was significant (P = 0.04), as were the interactions "infrequent drinking(*)apolipoprotein e4" (P = 0.02) and "frequent drinking(*)apolipoprotein e4" (P = 0.03)). Non-carriers of apolipoprotein e4 had similar odds ratios for dementia irrespective of alcohol consumption. Alcohol drinking in middle age showed a U shaped relation with risk of mild cognitive impairment in old age. Risk of dementia increased with increasing alcohol consumption only in those individuals carrying the apolipoprotein e4 allele.
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              The association between blood pressure, hypertension, and cerebral white matter lesions: cardiovascular determinants of dementia study.

              Cerebral white matter lesions are frequently observed on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in elderly people and are associated with stroke and dementia. Elevated blood pressure is presumed one of the main risk factors, although data are almost exclusively derived from cross-sectional studies. We assessed in 10 European cohorts the relation between concurrently and previously measured blood pressure levels, hypertension, its treatment, and severe cerebral white matter lesions. In total, 1805 nondemented subjects aged 65 to 75 years were sampled from ongoing community-based studies that were initiated 5 to 20 years before the MRI. White matter lesions in the periventricular and subcortical region were rated separately using semiquantitative measures. We performed logistic regression analyses adjusted for potential confounders in 1625 people with complete data. Concurrently and formerly assessed diastolic and systolic blood pressure levels were positively associated with severe white matter lesions. Both increases and decreases in diastolic blood pressure were associated with more severe periventricular white matter lesions. Increase in systolic blood pressure levels was associated with more severe periventricular and subcortical white matter lesions. People with poorly controlled hypertension had a higher risk of severe white matter lesions than those without hypertension, or those with controlled or untreated hypertension. Higher blood pressure was associated with an increased risk of severe white matter lesions. Successful treatment of hypertension may reduce this risk; however, a potential negative effect of decreasing diastolic blood pressure level on the occurrence of severe periventricular white matter lesions should be taken into account.

                Author and article information

                Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord
                Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders
                S. Karger AG
                February 2007
                14 December 2006
                : 23
                : 3
                : 140-149
                aAging Research Center (ARC), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Departments of bNeuroscience and Neurology and cPublic Health and General Practice, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland; dDivision of Geriatric Medicine, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, Sweden; eDepartment of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, fDepartment of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, KTL – National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, and gSouth Ostrobothnia Central Hospital, Seinäjoki, Finland
                97995 Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2007;23:140–149
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Tables: 5, References: 48, Pages: 10
                Original Research Article


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