Why is open NAT superior to moderate

28.07.2020 14:00

Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with better cognitive function

Dr. Bettina Albers DGN press office
German Society for Neurology e.V.

A low to moderate alcohol consumption seems to have a positive influence on cognitive function, this is the result of a large population-based, prospective cohort study from the USA. The effect could possibly be vascular, explains DGN General Secretary Professor Peter Berlit. However, the data should be interpreted with the caution necessary for association studies.

A large population-based cohort study [1], which analyzed the data of almost 20,000 people from the USA, produced an interesting result. It was a secondary analysis of the “Health and Retirement Study” (HRS), the participants of which have been examined by general practitioners every two years since 1992. The present analysis evaluated data from the third wave of surveys (1996 and later) and only included study participants who had undergone at least three biennial health checks. Cognitive function tests were also carried out on all participants who were 65 years of age and older at the time of inclusion. From 1998 these tests were then carried out on all study participants regardless of age. A total of three domains were evaluated: word memory, vocabulary and so-called mental status. This includes various cognitive skills such as memory, concentration, orientation, judgment, math skills.

The aim of the current analysis was to determine what influence low to moderate alcohol consumption has on cognitive function and whether it leads to a change in cognitive function between middle age and old age. Low to moderate alcohol consumption was defined as less than eight drinks per week for women and less than 15 drinks per week for men (in the context of scientific studies, a drink means a small glass of wine (150 ml) or beer (350 ml) *) . Study participants with this drinking behavior were compared with non-drinkers and heavy drinkers with regard to the development of their cognitive function. The evaluated cohort consisted of a total of 19,887 study participants with an average age of 61.8 years. Over 60% were women and over 85% were white.

The result showed that low to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a higher cognitive function curve and a lower cognitive breakdown rate. The likelihood of cognitive decline was 34% lower for them than for abstainers (OR: 0.66), and the differences between the groups with regard to mental status, word memory and vocabulary were significant - the moderate drinkers were the non- Superior to drinkers on test results. Annual cognitive function loss was significantly lower in the moderate alcohol group. This connection was particularly pronounced in people of white skin color. However, there was a clear U-curve relationship between alcohol consumption and cognitive function: cognitive function declined rapidly in heavy drinkers.

“This study also shows that the dose makes the poison. Ultimately, alcohol is a cell poison to which nerve and brain cells are particularly sensitive. Excessive alcohol consumption not only damages the liver, it can also lead to life-threatening neurological consequences, ”warns Professor Dr. Peter Berlit, Secretary General of the German Society for Neurology (DGN). The expert therefore does not want this study to be understood as a license for unbridled alcohol consumption.

Nevertheless, the question remains why low to moderate alcohol consumption could be beneficial for cognitive function. "This positive effect of moderate alcohol consumption is probably vascular-mediated," explains the expert. Association studies have shown, for example, that a glass of red wine per day is associated with a lower cardiovascular risk, i.e. it could have a vascular protective effect. Antioxidant as well as anti-thrombotic and vasodilating effects are suspected, as well as positive effects on lipid metabolism by raising HDL cholesterol [2]. Nevertheless, it must be emphasized, according to Berlit, that a causal connection between moderate alcohol consumption and positive effects on vascular and brain health has not yet been proven, since association studies have basically no evidential value.

“But if the hypothesis that moderate alcohol consumption has a vascular protective effect is correct, it would be easy to explain why it could also have a beneficial effect on cognitive function. A large part of all dementias is caused by vascular damage, we speak of a vascular cognitive impairment. Everything that maintains vascular health - reducing obesity, exercise, healthy food and lowering high blood pressure - protects against dementia. "

* "In the United States a standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (an American ounce being 29.6 ml)." [3]

[1] Zhang R, Shen L, Miles T et al. Association of Low to Moderate Alcohol Drinking With Cognitive Functions From Middle to Older Age Among US Adultss.JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Jun; 3 (6): e207922.
[2] Laufs B, Böhm M. Influence of alcohol on cardiovascular risk. German magazine for sports medicine. 2002. https: //www.germanjournalsportsmedicine.com/fileadmin/content/archiv2001/heft06 / ...
[3] Furthermore, RE. Alcohol intake: measure for measure. It's hard to calculate how much you are drinking — but you should know. BMJ. 2001 Dec 22; 323 (7327): 1439-1440.

Press contact
Press office of the German Society for Neurology
c / o albersconcept, Jakobstrasse 38, 99423 Weimar
Tel .: +49 (0) 36 43 77 64 23
Press spokesman: Prof. Dr. med. Hans-Christoph Diener, Essen
Email: [email protected]

The German Society for Neurology (DGN)
As a scientific specialist society, it has a social responsibility to secure and improve neurological health care in Germany with over 10,000 members. To this end, the DGN supports science and research as well as teaching, advanced and advanced training in neurology. She participates in the health policy discussion. The DGN was founded in Dresden in 1907. The office is based in Berlin. www.dgn.org

President: Prof. Dr. med. Christine Klein
Deputy President: Prof. Dr. med. Christian Gerloff
Past President: Prof. Dr. Gereon R. Fink
Secretary General: Prof. Dr. Peter Berlit
Managing Director: Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Thiekötter
Office: Reinhardtstr. 27 C, 10117 Berlin, Tel .: +49 (0) 30 531437930, E-Mail: [email protected]

Original publication:

doi: 10.1001 / jamanetworkopen.2020.7922

Features of this press release:
Nutrition / health / care, medicine
Colorful things from science, research results