Alcohol consumption and dementia risk: a dose–response meta-analysis of prospective studies

Abstract

It is widely believed that light-to-moderate alcohol intake may protect against dementia while excessive drinking may instead increase the risk. Nonetheless, these findings need cautious interpretations due to varying methodologies and lack of standard definition, which hindered our transferring into preventative practice. The objective of this study is to investigate the potential dose–response association between alcohol consumption and risk of dementia. A systematic search was conducted in electronic databases to identify relevant studies. Risk estimates were combined using a random-effect model. Eleven studies with 73,330 participants and 4586 cases for all-cause dementia (ACD), five studies with 52,715 participants and 1267 cases for Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) and four studies with 49,535 participants and 542 cases for vascular dementia were included. We observed a nonlinear association between alcohol consumption and ACD risk (p nonlinearity < 0.05). The alcohol dose associated with lower risk of dementia was confined to at most 12.5 g/day, with the risk hitting bottom (RR ≈ 0.9) at roughly 6 g/day. Of note, the ACD risk seemed to be elevated (≈10%) when the dose surpasses certain levels: 23 drinks/week or 38 g/day. For the alcohol type, recommendation for wine is prioritized. The subgroup analysis further indicated that the effect of alcohol may be greater in younger adults (<60 years old) with regard to fighting against dementia. Modest alcohol consumption (≤12.5 g/day) is associated with a reduced risk of dementia with 6 g/day of alcohol conferring a lower risk than other levels while excessive drinking (≥38 g/day) may instead elevate the risk.

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Authors’ contributions

WX, LT and JY designed the study. WX, HW, YW and JL performed the literature search, the selection of eligible articles and the data extraction. WX and HW analyzed the data. WX, HW, JL and JY were involved in data interpretation. WX and JY wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the submitted manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lan Tan or Jin-Tai Yu.

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Xu, W., Wang, H., Wan, Y. et al. Alcohol consumption and dementia risk: a dose–response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur J Epidemiol 32, 31–42 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-017-0225-3

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Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Dementia
  • Meta-analysis
  • Dose–response