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Alcohol and dementia — risk or protective factor?

Dementia care

CEPAR researchers Professor Kaarin Anstey and Dr Ruth Peters published a review paper, Alcohol and dementia - risk or protective factor?, in Nature Reviews Neurology. The paper reviews the recent progress in research on alcohol consumption and the risk of dementia and discusses the findings of a recent publication from the Whitehall study.

Anstey and Peters

"This study confirms earlier findings that light to moderate alcohol drinkers have a reduced risk of dementia compared with abstainers and heavy drinkers. Importantly, the study follows a cohort from middle age, whereas most previous research on this topic has focused on older adults," write Anstey and Peters.

But the authors caution that ‘research on the association between alcohol drinking and risk of dementia (usually in late life) is fraught with methodological challenges’ and that the recent findings of the Whitehall study ‘reinforce the need to better understand and characterize alcohol abstainers and to explore the mechanisms underpinning the association between alcohol and brain health.’