Moderate alcohol consumption – one or two glasses of red wine – has a protective effect against cardiovascular disease. However, even in small amounts, alcohol is harmful for neurons, which can accelerate the development of some neurodegenerative diseases. It does not seem so in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, as new evidence reached in study by Danish Alzheimer Intervention (DAISY) show that taking two or three units of alcohol a day reduces the risk of death in patients with mild Alzheimer’s.
Anyway, it should be noted that, as explained by the authors of this study published in the journal BMJ Open, while the results show a potentially positive association of moderate alcohol consumption on mortality in patients with Alzheimer’s, based solely on this study we can not counsel or advise against moderate alcohol consumption. More research on the impact of alcohol on cognitive decline and disease progression in patients with mild Alzheimer needed to be evaluated.
The purpose of this substudy DAISY was to assess whether the potential cardiovascular risk reduction associated with moderate alcohol consumption also remains in patients with mild Alzheimer’s – that is, with a score of 20 or fewer points on the MMSE scale.
To do this, the researchers analyzed data collected over three years of 330 Danes with mild Alzheimer’s who had participated in a program of counseling and support 12 months. And the vast amount of data collected included the consumption of alcohol.
Specifically, 8% never drank alcohol; 71% drank alcohol unit – that is, the amount equivalent to a small glass of red wine daily; 17% drank two to three daily units; and 4% consumed four or more each day.
During the monitoring period, 53 of the participants – 16.5% of the total – died. And according to the analysis results, drink two or three units of alcohol per day was associated with a 77% reduction in risk of death compared to other consumption patterns – never, 1 per day, or more than four a day. The benefit of taking two or three units of alcohol a day was independent of factors such as gender, age, living alone or with a caregiver, consumption of snuff or quality of life.
But if alcohol is harmful to the brain, how this benefit is explained? According to the authors, there may be many explanations for these findings, if moderate drinkers have a richer social life, which may be associated with improved life expectancy. And thus also the possibility that participants who did not drink or consume one unit of alcohol per day do so because they were in a terminal phase, “so that this positive association between alcohol and mortality would have inflation would add artificial way”, the authors conclude.