Alcohol Consumption in Predementia and Dementia Syndromes

  • Francesco Panza
  • Vincenza Frisardi
  • Patrick G. Kehoe
  • Cristiano Capurso
  • Alessia D’Introno
  • Anna M. Colacicco
  • Gianluigi Vendemiale
  • Antonio Capurso
  • Vincenzo Solfrizzi


Dementia is an age-related progressive disorder with an enormous unmet medical need. It is characterized by relatively slow but progressive and chronic impairment in cognition, behaviour, and functionality. In several longitudinal studies, light to moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages has been proposed as being protective against the development of age-related changes in cognitive function, predementia syndromes, and cognitive decline of degenerative (Alzheimer’s disease, AD) or vascular origin (vascular dementia, VaD). However, contrasting findings also exist. The equivocal findings may relate to many of the studies being limited to cross-sectional designs, restrictions by age or gender, or incomplete ascertainment. Different outcomes, beverages, drinking patterns, and study follow-up periods or possible interactions with other lifestyle-related (e.g., smoking) or genetic factors (e.g., apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene variation) may all contribute to the variability of findings. Light to moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of unspecified incident dementia and AD; however, protective benefits afforded to VaD, cognitive decline, and predementia syndromes are less clear. In conclusion, since intervention studies to further test this thesis would be problematic, the most appropriate evidence that can be interpreted is that from an overview of epidemiological studies where protective effects are suggested to be more likely in the absence of the AD-associated APOE ε4 allele and where wine is the beverage. At present, there is no indication that light to moderate alcohol drinking would be harmful to cognition and dementia and attempts to define what might be deemed beneficial levels of alcohol intake in terms of cognitive performance would be highly problematic and contentious.


Alcohol Consumption Mild Cognitive Impairment Mediterranean Diet Moderate Drinking Moderate Alcohol Consumption 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Alzheimer’s disease


Apolipoprotein E


Age-related cognitive decline


Amyloid beta


Coronary artery disease


Cognitive abilities screening instrument


Cerebrovascular disease


Mild cognitive impairment


Monounsaturated fatty acids


Polyunsaturated fatty acids


Saturated fatty acids


Vascular dementia


White matter lesions



This work was supported by the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging (ILSA) (Italian National Research Council - CNR-Targeted Project on Ageing - Grants 9400419PF40 and 95973PF40).


  1. Anstey KJ, Mack HA, Cherbuin N. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009;17:542–55.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anttila T, Helkala EL, Viitanen M, Kåreholt I, Fratiglioni L, Winblad B, Soininen H, Tuomilehto J, Nissinen A, Kivipelto M. B.M.J. 2004;329:539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bond GE, Burr R, McCurry SM, Graves AB, Larson EB. Int Psychogeriatr. 2001;13:207–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bond GE, Burr R., Rice MM, McCurry SM, Graves AB, Teri L, Bowen JD, McCormick WC, Larson EB. J Aging Health. 2003;15:371–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bond GE, Burr R, McCurry SM, Rice MM, Borenstein AR, Kukull WA, Teri L, Bowen JD, McCormick WC, Larson EB. J Aging Health. 2004;16:615–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bond GE, Burr R, McCurry SM, Rice MM, Borenstein AR, Larson EB. Int Psychogeriatr. 2005;17:653–68.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Broe GA, Creasey H, Jorm AF, Bennett HP, Casey B, Waite LM, Grayson DA, Cullen J. Aust N. Z. J. Public Health. 1998;22:621–3.Google Scholar
  8. Carmelli D, Swan GE, Reed T, Schellenberg GD, Christian JC. Neuroepidemiology. 1999;18:125–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cervilla JA, Prince M, Mann A. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2000a;68:622–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cervilla JA, Prince M, Joels S, Lovestone S, Mann A. Long-term predictors of cognitive outcome in a cohort of older people with hypertension. Br J Psychiatry. 2000b;177:66–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Commenges D, Scotet V, Renaud S, Jacqmin-Gadda H, Barberger-Gateau P, Dartigues J-F. Eur J Epidemiol. 2000;16:357–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Corder R, Mullen W, Khan NQ, Marks SC, Wood EG, Carrier MJ, Crozier A. Nature. 2006;444:566.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Christian JC, Reed T, Carmelli D, Page WF, Norton JA Jr, Breitner JC. J Stud Alcohol. 1995;56:414–6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. DeCarli C, Miller BL, Swan GE, Reed T, Wolf PA, Carmelli D. Arch Neurol. 2001;58:643–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deng J, Zhou DH, Li J, Wang YJ, Gao C, Chen M. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2006;108:378–83.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dent OF, Sulway MR, Broe GA, Creasey H, Kos SC, Jorm AF, Tennant C, Fairley MJ. B.M.J. 1997;314:l655–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. den Heijer T, Vermeer SE, van Dijk EJ, Prins ND, Koudstaal PJ, van Duijn CM, Hofman A, Breteler MM. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80:992–7.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Dufouil C, Ducimetière P, Alperovitch A. Am J Epidemiol. 1997;146:405–12.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Dufouil C, Tzourio C, Brayne C, Berr C, Amouyel P, Alperovitch A. Epidemiology. 2000;11:280–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Edelstein SL, Kritz-Silverstein D, Barrett-Connor E. J Women’s Health. 1998;7:1271–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Elias PK, Elias MF, D’Agostino RB, Silbershatz H, Wolf PA. Am J Epidemiol. 1999;150:580–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Elwood PC, Gallacher JE, Hopkinson CA, Pickering J, Rabbitt P, Stollery B, Brayne C, Huppert FA, Bayer A. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1999;53:9–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Erkinjuntti T, Inzitari D, Pantoni L, Wallin A, Scheltens P, Rockwood K, Desmond DW. Ann N. Y. Acad Sci. 903: 262–272.Google Scholar
  24. Espeland MA, Gu L, Masaki KH, Langer RD, Coker LH, Stefanick ML, Ockene J, Rapp SR. Am J Epidemiol. 2005;161:228–38.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fadda F, Rossetti ZL. Prog Neurobiol. 1998;56:385–431.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fujishima M, Kiyohara Y. Ann N. Y. Acad Sci. 2002;977:1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Galanis DJ, Joseph C, Masaki KH, Petrovich H, Ross GW, White L. Am J Public Health. 2000;90:1254–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ganguli M, Vander Bilt J, Saxton JA, Shen C, Dodge HH. Neurology. 2005;65:1210–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Goodwin JS, Sanchez CJ, Thomas P, Hunt C, Garry PJ, Goodwin JM. Am J Public Health. 1987;77:173–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hebert LE, Scherr PA, Beckett LA, Funkenstein HH, Albert MS, Chown MJ, Evans DA. Am J Epidemiol. 1992;135:347–55.Google Scholar
  31. Herbert LE, Scherr PA, Beckett LA, Albert MS, Rosner B, Taylor JO, Evans DA. Am J Epidemiol. 1993;137:881–91.Google Scholar
  32. Hendrie HC, Gao S, Hall KS, Hui SL, Unverzagt FW. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1996;44:1158–65.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Huang W, Qiu C, Winblad B, Fratiglioni L. J Clin Epidemiol. 2002;55:959–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Järvenpää T, Rinne JO, Koskenvuo M, Räihä I, Kaprio J. Epidemiology. 2005;16:766–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Klatsky AL. Stroke. 2005;36:1835–6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Kivipelto M, Helkala EL, Hänninen T, Laakso MP, Hallikainen M, Alhainen K, Soininen H, Tuomilehto J, Nissinen A. B.M.J. 2001;322:1447–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kivipelto M, Rovio S, Ngandu T, Kåreholt I, Eskelinen M, Winblad B, Hachinski V, Cedazo-Minguez A, Soininen H, Tuomilehto J, Nissinen A. J Cell Mol Med. 2008;12:2762–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Larrieu S, Letenneur L, Helmer C, Dartigues JF, Barberger-Gateau P. J Nutr Health Aging. 2004;8:150–4.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Launer LJ, Feskens EJ, Kalmijn S, Kromhout D. Am J Epidemiol. 1996;143:219–27.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Leibovici D, Ritchie K, Ledesert B, Touchon J. Int J Epidemiol. 1999;28:77–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lemeshow S, Letenneur L, Dartigues JF, Lafont S, Orgogozo JM, Commenges D. Am J Epidemiol. 1998;148:298–306.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Lindeman RD, Wayne SJ, Baumgartner RN, Garry PJ. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2005;60:1065–70.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lindsay J, Laurin D, Verreault R, Hébert R, Helliwell B, Hill GB, McDowell I. Am J Epidemiol. 2002;156:445–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Luchsinger JA, Tang MX, Siddiqui M, Shea S, Mayeux R. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004;52:540–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McCallum J, Simons LA, Simons J, Friedlander Y. Ann N. Y. Acad Sci. 2007;1114:121–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McGuire LC, Ajani UA, Ford ES. Ann Epidemiol. 2007;17:93–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mehlig K, Skoog I, Guo X, Schütze M, Gustafson D, Waern M, Ostling S, Björkelund C, Lissner L. Am J Epidemiol. 2008;167:684–91.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Miners JS, Baig S, Palmer J, Palmer LE, Kehoe PG, Love S. Brain Pathol. 2008;18:240–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mukamal KJ, Kuller LH, Fitzpatrick AL, Longstreth WT Jr, Mittleman MA, Siscovick DS. J.A.M.A. 2003;289:1405–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mukamal KJ, Chung H, Jenny NS, Kuller LH, Longstreth WT Jr, Mittleman MA, Burke GL, Cushman M, Beauchamp NJ Jr, Siscovick DS. Stroke. 2005a;36:1830–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mukamal KJ, Ascherio A, Mittleman MA, Conigrave KM, Camargo CA Jr, Kawachi I, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Rimm EB. Ann Intern Med. 2005b;142:11–19.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Naimi TS, Brown DW, Brewer RD, Giles WH, Mensah G, Serdula MK, Mokdad AH, Hungerford DW, Lando J, Naimi S, Stroup DF. Am J Prev Med. 2005;28:369–73.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ngandu T, Helkala EL, Soininen H, Winblad B, Tuomilehto J, Nissinen A, Kivipelto M. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2007;23:140–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Orgogozo JM, Dartigues JF, Lafont S, Letenneur L, Commenges D, Salamon R, Renaud S, Breteler MB. (Paris) 1997;153:185–92.Google Scholar
  55. Palomaki H, Kaste M. Stroke. 1993;24:1828–32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Panza F, Solfrizzi V, Torres F, Mastroianni F, Del Parigi A, Colacicco AM, Basile AM, Capurso C, Noya R, Capurso A. Neurosci Lett. 1999;277:53–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Panza F, D’Introno A, Colacicco AM, Capurso C, Del Parigi A, Caselli RJ, Pilotto A, Argentieri G, Scapicchio PL, Scafato E, Capurso A, Solfrizzi V. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2005;13:633–44.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Panza F, Capurso C, D’Introno A, Colacicco AM, Frisardi V, Lorusso M, Santamato A, Seripa D, Pilotto A, Scafato E, Vendemiale G, Capurso A, Solfrizzi V. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009a;17:7–31.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Panza F, Capurso C, Solfrizzi V. J.A.M.A. 2009b;299:2853–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Panza F, Frisardi V, Capurso C, D’Introno A, Colacicco AM, Imbimbo BP, Santamato A, Vendemiale G, Seripa D, Pilotto A, Capurso A, Solfrizzi V. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2010;18:98–116.Google Scholar
  61. Peters R, Peters J, Warner J, Beckett N, Bulpitt C. Age Ageing. 2008;37:505–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Petersen RC, Smith GE, Waring SC, Ivnik RJ, Tangalos EG, Kokmen E. Arch Neurol. 1999;56:303–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Portet F, Ousset PJ, Visser PJ, Frisoni GB, Nobili F, Scheltens P, Vellas B, Touchon J; MCI Working Group of the European Consortium on Alzheimer’s Disease (EADC). J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2006;77:714–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Qiu C, De Ronchi D, Fratiglioni L. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2007;20:380–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Reid MC, Van Ness PH, Hawkins KA, Towle V, Concato J, Guo Z. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2006;19:98–105.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Reynolds K, Lewis LB, Nolen JD, Kinney GL, Sathya B, He J. J.A.M.A. 2003;289:579–88.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Roman GC. Acta Neurol Scand. 2002;Suppl. 178:6–9.Google Scholar
  68. Roman GC, Royall DR. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 1999;13 (Suppl. 3):S69–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Román GC, Sachdev P, Royall DR, Bullock RA, Orgogozo JM, López-Pousa S, Arizaga R, Wallin A. J Neurol Sci. 2004;226:81–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Ruitenberg A, van Swieten JC, Witteman JC, Mehta KM, van Duijn CM, Hofman A, Breteler MM. Lancet. 2002;359:281–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sachdev P. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 1999;14:402–3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Scarmeas N, Stern Y, Tang MX, Mayeux R, Luchsinger JA. Ann Neurol. 2006;59:912–21.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Schinka JA, Vanderploeg RD, Rogish M, Graves AB, Mortimer JA, Ordoric PI. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2002;8:811–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Simons LA, Simons J, McCallum J, Friedlander Y. Med J Aust. 2006;184:68–70.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Solfrizzi V, D’Introno A, Colacicco AM, Capurso C, Del Parigi A, Baldassarre G, Scapicchio P, Scafato E, Amodio M, Capurso A, Panza F, Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging Working Group. Neurology. 2007;68:1790–89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Stampfer MJ, Kang JH, Chen J, Cherry R, Grodstein F. N Engl J Med. 2005;352:245–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Stancampiano R, Carta M, Cocco S, Curreli R, Rossetti ZL, Fadda F. Brain Res. 2004;997:128–32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Tyas SL, Koval JJ, Pederson LL. Stat Med. 2000;19:1685–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Truelsen T, Thudium D, Grønbæk M. Neurology. 2002;59: 1313–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary guidelines for Americans, 6th ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2005.Google Scholar
  81. Verhaegen P, Borchelt M, Smith J. Health Psychol. 2003;22:559–69.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Waddington E, Puddey IB, Croft KD. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79:54–61.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. Walzem RL. Inflammopharmacology. 2008;16:265–71.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  84. Waterhouse AL. Ann N. Y. Acad Sci. 2002;957:21–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Whitehouse PJ, Sciulli CG, Mason RM. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1997;33:129–33.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  86. Winblad B, Palmer K, Kivipelto M, Jelic V, Fratiglioni L, Wahlund LO, Nordberg A, Bäckman L, Albert M, Almkvist O, Arai H, Basun H, Blennow K, de Leon M, DeCarli C, Erkinjuntti T, Giacobini E, Graff C, Hardy J, Jack C, Jorm A, Ritchie K, van Duijn C, Visser P, Petersen RC. J Intern Med. 2004;256:240–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Yoshitake T, Kiyohara Y, Kato I, Ohmura T, Iwamoto H, Nakayama K, Ohmori S, Nomiyama K, Kawano H, Ueda K, Sueishi K, Tsuneyoshi M, Fujishima M. Neurology. 1995;45:1161–8.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  88. Zuccalà G, Onder G, Pedone C, Cesari M, Landi F, Bernabei R, Cocchi A; Gruppo Italiano di Farmacoepidemiologia nell’Anziano Investigators. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2001;25:1743–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Zhou H, Deng J, Li J, Wang Y, Zhang M, He H. Age Ageing. 2003;32:205–10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Panza
    • 1
  • Vincenza Frisardi
  • Patrick G. Kehoe
  • Cristiano Capurso
  • Alessia D’Introno
  • Anna M. Colacicco
  • Gianluigi Vendemiale
  • Antonio Capurso
  • Vincenzo Solfrizzi
  1. 1.Department of Geriatrics, Center for Aging Brain, Memory UnitUniversity of BariBariItaly

Personalised recommendations