An interesting new Alzheimer’s study that looked at alcohol consumption and Alzheimer’s disease found that moderate drinking reduced the risk of early death in those suffering from this disease. Drinking more than this, or drinking less than this, increased the risk of death when in the early stages of the disease. This is certainly a surprising study as it gives value to drinking alcohol to those that are in the early stages of dementia, but it is one of those studies that should be examined, given some attention, and then looked into again.
The study defines “moderate” as being two to three units of alcohol per day. It makes sense that drinking more than this would be harmful, but drinking less being harmful is a big shock to many in the medical community. It’s been known for quite some time that alcohol in moderate consumption can help fight heart and other cardiovascular disease, but alcohol is known to impair the functioning of brain cells, and even cause cellular death.
The study took place in Denmark and looked at over 300 individuals with Alzheimer’s. It was originally set out to look at whether alcohol was having a cardiovascular impact on those with Alzheimer’s but when brain functioning was found to be better than expected in some, the focus of attention was shifted. They tracked the impact of alcohol for 12 months, and then followed up for three years afterward.
The majority of those in this sample drank one or fewer unit per day. This group accounted for 71 percent of those looked at. A small group–17 percent–drank two to three glasses per day. This was the group that showed the best results. The remaining 21 percent had four or more drinks per day, and they surprisingly showed the same mortality rate as those on the other end of the spectrum. One reason why this might be is that those that drink might still have richer social lives and be stimulated mentally by the people around them. This has already been linked to improving the odds of fight Alzheimer’s disease in the past and could be a continuation of that. Either way, this could be the start of an unexpected way to approach Alzheimer’s research and progress a little bit closer to a cure for the disease. At the very least, it’s a start and a new way of looking at things.
There are issues with this study, of course, but it does show some sign of promise in the field of Alzheimer’s research. If there is something in the beverages being consumed that somehow boosted cognitive functioning, that element can be used to help better the lives of those suffering from this disease in the future. Again, this is a study that needs a lot of refinement, but it could be an interesting development in the field. At the very least, it gives those that will be suffering from this awful disease in the future and their in-home caregivers a little bit extra hope where there may not have been any before.