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Alcohol and Alzheimer's Prevention

White Zin Wine

MSNBC published an article in January of 2002 under the following headline: "Alcohol may ward off Alzheimer's."..."Jan. 24 - Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, which has already been shown to help prevent heart disease and strokes, may also cut the risk of Alzheimer's disease by nearly half a Dutch study found.  

It was reported that it made no difference "whether it is wine, beer or whiskey, the effect is the same, researchers reported this week in The Lancet Medical Journal."..."We found that, in this population of individuals aged 55 years or older, those who consumed up to three glasses of alcohol per day had a lower risk of dementia...than those who never drank alcohol, "said Dr. Monique Breteler, an epidemiologist at Erasmus University Medical School in Rotterdam, the Netherlands."

"The finding adds to a growing body of evidence for the health benefits of moderated drinking. Experts say moderation - between one and three drinks a day - is the key....For people who drink moderately, this is another indication that they are not doing any harm. And for those who don't, if they don't simply out of health concerns, they might want to rethink that position," said Meir Stampfer, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study."

Details of the Study:  "Scientists at Erasmus University conducted a six (6) year study of 5,395 people aged 55 and over who did not have signs of dementia.(They were asked about their drinking of alcohol and the details of their consumption.) "Everyone was categorized according to how much they drank...

"By the end of the study in 1999, 197 of the participants had developed Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. Those who fared best were people who drank between one and three drinks a day. they had a 42 percent lower risk of developing dementia than the nondrinkers. Those who weren't daily drinkers but had more than one drink per  week had a 25 percent lower risk and those who drank less than a glass a week were 18 percent less likely than nondrinkers. The number of heavy drinkers, who numbered 165 - mostly men - was insufficient to draw conclusion about the affect heavy drinking might have on dementia."

"Recalculating all the figures for each type of alcohol separately , and comparing wine to other types of alcohol, yielded the same results...This red wine thing is a myth..."

"Scientists believe moderate amounts of alcohol may reduce the risk of dementia by releasing acetylcholine, a brain protein that helps to transmit messages between brain cells that control functions such as memory, attention and addiction...but they noted too much alcohol inhibited its production...researchers suggested the blood-thinning and cholesterol-lowering properties of ethanol in alcohol may ward off dementia, which is often cause by a blood vessel problem. Breteler believes  that moderate amounts of alcohol may reduce the risk of dementia in a similar method to the way it cuts the risk of heart disease."

     Editorial Note: I have researched this matter further to determine if any follow up studies confirm or dispute the Dutch findings.

I did find  a relatively recent  report on ABC News 13 July 2009 that reported:

"Experts at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina examined and interviewed 3,069 people aged 75 or older - most with no memory problems - about their drinking habits and whether they drank bear, wine or spirits. It looked for a correlation between people who drank one to two alcoholic beverages a day. Those people had a 40 percent less chance of developing dementia compared to abstainers...

"The study, which was presented at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference, also found that those who had a mild impairment did not benefit from moderate alcohol consumption, and the impairment got worse with alcohol...There are other benefits from moderate drinking. You can reduce your risk for heart disease, for example. But you shouldn't start drinking if you don't. Ten percent of people who start drinking become alcoholics. And more than one to two drinks daily can damage your brain and heart tissue."

The above percentage is almost identical to the Dutch findings.


Journal of Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, August 2011: Reported on an analysis of 143 studies dating back to 1977 on the effect of Alcohol consumption on Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The conclusion was that moderate drinking might decrease the risk (23 percent) of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia while heavy drinking was linked to a slightly higher risk of dementia and cognitive impairment. Moderate drinking was defined as one drink a day for women and two for men. Heavy drinking was defined as more than three to five drinks a day. The theory of what is happening is related to inflammation. “If alcohol is increasing molecules that are suppressing inflammation in other tissues, then it probably also does that in the brain.”


Alcohol Consumption studies reported at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s in Vancouver, BC, Canada 2012 in USA Today for July 19th, 2012,

The first study reported by the University of Exeter in the UK… the results of “Binge Drinking” as being a risk of memory loss in older people...such results from “binge” drinking should hardly be a surprise…

 “Adults 65 and older who reported binge drinking twice a month were 2-1/2 times more likely to suffer cognitive and memory declines than similar aged adults who don’t binge drink, defined as four or more drinks on one occasion.”

A second report by Veterans Health Research Institute in San Francisco reported on moderate drinking.

“Moderate alcohol consumption had no protective effect on mental function in 1,305 women 65 and older followed for 20 years.

    Editorial Note: It should be noted that the second report on moderate drinking flies in the face of 145 studies to the contrary that date back to 1977 and include such prestigious institutions as Wake Forest University, North Carolina and Erasmus University in Rotterdam that found improvements from 23% to the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it is safe to ignore the above Veterans Health Research Institute findings as obviously flawed. (see above for details on previous research.)


     Note: Like all the many recommendations that are touted as a means of or for preventing Alzheimer’s, at best, they simply improve your chances of avoiding this terrible disease. Nothing presently known will absolutely prevent or avoid Alzheimer’s. My wife June and I have always enjoyed a nice glass of “White Zinfandel” Wine when dining out. June did many of the other various dietary and life style recommendations now popular for avoiding or preventing Alzheimer’s. None of these recommendations prevented June from getting this terrible disease. June was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in early January 1998 and passed away from complications of this disease on October 23rd, 2008, almost 11 years later. June and I were married for 56 years before Alzheimer’s took her away. She was truly the love and light of my life. I miss her very much every day!

June 1994

 (June K.  Berg - Mother's Day May 1994)


Reader's Comments

Okcim Donna - St. Paul, Minnesota - (22 July 2012): "just saw this report- heard about the new drug showing promise for sufferers also--- i sure hope they fig this one out.. my husband's mom is in a home- she knows him no longer- she has been absent for 5 years now- it is very painful for him- very.......unbearble to see it- so, i know he is at risk... so when i see all the awareness u r doing- i am grateful for you-thank u for being apart of f.b. ... u dont know how many people u touch- .... keep on keepin on."

Bridie Breen  - Manchester, United Kigdom - (29 October 2014): "Everything in moderation Stan."

Pam O'Halloran  - Sedona, Arizona - (29 October 2014):  "It's true! I have read that as well. Two glasses of any alcohol is beneficial to living longer in general. Cheers!!!"

Hazel Kliner  - (29 October  2014): "Yes, Paul Harvey said decades ago that people who had one drink a day lived longer than those who did not. But as I was thinking about the weekend he added, NO you cannot save them up for the weekend. LOL."