Alcohol and Dementia

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Alcohol kills brains cells.  That's an undisputed fact.

So what should we make of the many studies, including a new one published last week in Age and Ageing, that shows a lower incidence of dementia among those who drink light or moderate amounts of alcohol?

First we should note that many earlier studies have suggested similar findings.  In general, cumulative scientific evidence, supporting the same conclusion, builds a compelling case.  In that regard, the findings that alcohol consumption may somehow protect against dementia, should not be lightly dismissed.  After all, part of the scientific discipline is having an open mind when faced with seemingly contradictory evidence.

On the other hand, most recognize that it has been exceedingly difficult to untangle the many confounding factors in these studies.  For example, in this latest publication, the authors found that the subjects who reported themselves to be drinkers, were also higher educated, less likely to be depressed, and less likely to live alone.  All three of those characteristics are correlated with a lower risk for dementia.

This raises the question: are drinking habits and incidence of dementia both related to the same life style choices?  It is plausible that higher educated people partake in better care throughout their lives, and arrive at the age of dementia risk with a lower probability. They might also be more likely to be in good health, have attained the economic status to support an active social life, and have more social opportunities to drink.

In other words, we cannot yet be certain that drinking alcohol leads to lower incidence of dementia.  Perhaps, other factors  cause low dementia incidence AND more social drinking.

Also keep in mind, there are no studies showing that alcohol helps your liver.

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  1. I don't believe that Alcohol kills brains cells, I think there are worse things in the world like cocaine or marijuana...the problem in the alcohol is if you abuse of it..

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