Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Drinking Patterns Appear Linked to Cognitive Impairment

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Drinking Patterns Appear Linked to Cognitive Impairment

Article excerpt


VANCOUVER, B.C. - Certain patterns of alcohol consumption appear detrimental to older adults' cognitive health, according to a pair of longitudinal cohort studies.

In a study of older women, moderate drinking at a mean age of 81 years and initiation of drinking after a mean age of 68 years increased the odds of cognitive impairment. In a study of older men and women, those consuming large amounts of alcohol in a single sitting, so-called binge drinking, were more likely to be in the top decile of cognitive decline over time.

These new findings call into question what constitutes risky drinking in older adults and conventional practices of risk assessment, investigators reported at the conference.

Drinking patterns among older women

A team led by Tina D. Hoang, M.S.P.H., of the University of California, San Francisco, and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, analyzed data from 1,306 community-dwelling, dementia-free women aged 65 years or older from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures.

Research has suggested a J-shaped association between alcohol intake and dementia risk, whereby moderate alcohol intake is protective, she noted. However, "in most of the studies for dementia that are prospective, the follow-up time is between 5 and 6 years, and in terms of assessment of alcohol use, it's primarily at baseline, focusing on midlife and early late-life stages of alcohol use. Few studies have really looked at patterns of use or changes in use over time."

The women studied had serial assessments of drinking over time and a cognitive evaluation at year 20, when they were, on average, 88 years old. At that time, 41% had cognitive impairment.

Adjusted analyses showed that women who, at baseline, reported drinking more in the past had 1.3-fold higher odds of developing cognitive impairment relative to their counterparts who had not changed their drinking habits up to that point.

With regard to current drinking, light and moderate drinkers had nonsignificantly reduced odds of cognitive impairment relative to nondrinkers at mean ages of 68 and 75 years. But moderate drinkers at a mean age of 81 years had 1.6-fold higher odds of cognitive impairment as same-aged nondrinkers. …

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