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      Association between Alcohol Intake and Domain-Specific Cognitive Function in Older Women

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          Moderate levels of alcohol intake may be associated with better cognitive function; however, this relationship may vary between cognitive domains. Women, aged 65–80 years, enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) randomized clinical trials of hormone therapy, underwent annual standardized testing for global cognitive function through the ancillary WHI Memory Study (average follow-up of 4.5 years) and domain-specific cognitive function through the WHI Study of Cognitive Aging (average follow-up of 1.7 years). Compared to nondrinkers, women reporting moderate levels of alcohol intake (≤3 drinks per day) performed better on a measure of global cognitive function. Women reporting any alcohol intake also performed better on tests of verbal knowledge, verbal fluency, figural memory, verbal memory, attention and working memory, and motor speed (all p < 0.05), but not spatial ability (p = 0.36). After covariate adjustment, mean scores were higher among women reporting ≧1 drink/day by 5.7% for verbal knowledge (p < 0.001) and by 5.7% for phonemic fluency (p = 0.004), compared to never-drinkers. Moderate levels of alcohol intake are associated with somewhat better cognition, which may be expressed most strongly in functions related to verbal knowledge and phonemic fluency. However, our observational study cannot rule out confounding associations with unmeasured factors.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Measurement characteristics of the Women's Health Initiative food frequency questionnaire.

          The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) is the largest research program ever initiated in the United States with a focus on diet and health. Therefore, it is important to understand and document the measurement characteristics of the key dietary assessment instrument: the WHI food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Data are from 113 women screened for participation in the WHI in 1995. We assessed bias and precision of the FFQ by comparing the intake of 30 nutrients estimated from the FFQ with means from four 24-hour dietary recalls and a 4-day food record. For most nutrients, means estimated by the FFQ were within 10% of the records or recalls. Precision, defined as the correlation between the FFQ and the records and recalls, was similar to other FFQs. Energy adjusted correlation coefficients ranged from 0.2 (vitamin B12) to 0.7 (magnesium) with a mean of 0.5. The correlation for percentage energy from fat (a key measure in WHI) was 0.6. Vitamin supplement use was common. For example, almost half of total vitamin E intake was obtained from supplements. Including supplemental vitamins and minerals increased micronutrient correlation coefficients, which ranged from 0.2 (thiamin) to 0.8 (vitamin E) with a mean of 0.6. The WHI FFQ produced nutrient estimate, that were similar to those obtained from short-term dietary recall and recording methods. Comparison of WHI FFQ nutrient intake measures to independent and unbiased measures, such as doubly labeled water estimates of energy expenditure, are needed to help address the validity of the FFQ in this population.
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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 Consumption and Risk of Stroke


                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                July 2006
                21 July 2006
                : 27
                : 1
                : 1-12
                Departments of aPublic Health Sciences and bPsychiatry, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C., cDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa, dGerontology Research Center, National Institute of Aging, Baltimore, Md., eDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., fDepartment of Preventive Medicine, Rush University Medical Center,Chicago, Ill., gDepartment of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, N.Y., USA
                93532 Neuroepidemiology 2006;27:1–12
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Tables: 6, References: 47, Pages: 12
                Original Paper


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