Women who drink wine are less likely to develop dementia over time than their teetotaling peers, while drinking hard liquor may actually boost dementia risk, Swedish researchers report.
"There may be components in wine besides (alcohol) that protect against dementia," Dr Lauren Lissner of Goteborg University, the study's senior author, told Reuters Health. "Our findings are consistent with several previous reports."
Lissner and her team looked at 1,462 women who ranged in age from 38 to 60 between 1968 and 1969 and were followed up to 2002, by which time 164 had been diagnosed with dementia. The women reported their alcohol consumption at the beginning of the study and three more times during the course of the study.
70% lower risk for wine drinkers
The risk of developing dementia was 40 percent lower among wine drinkers, the researchers found, while women who drank wine and no other alcohol had a 70 percent lower risk. Smokers were even more strongly protected against dementia if they drank wine only. But women who drank spirits were at 50 percent greater risk of dementia.
"There may be other characteristics of women who drink wine that protect against dementia, factors that we were not able to measure," Lissner said.
"However, it should be noted that the association was very robust and could not be explained by any other factor that we were able to measure, like education, body mass index or smoking."
Alcohol consumption not measured
One limitation of the study, she and her colleagues note, is that it did not look at the amount of alcohol the women consumed. Nevertheless, they say, people who drink wine and nothing else tend to consume less alcohol overall than those who drink other types of liquor as well, so they may be more moderate drinkers for whom the benefits of alcohol outweigh any risks.
The findings can't be generalised to men, who tend to have different drinking habits.
Lissner added that recommendations of whether a woman should start drinking, continue to drink, or to drink more wine for health can't be made based on these findings." – (Anne Harding/Reuters Health)
SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, March 15, 2008.
Alzheimer's & Dementia Centre
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