Heavy Alcohol Consumption Bad for the Aging Brain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Séverine Sabia, PhD
Epidemiology & Public Health, Div of Population Health
University College London – Gower Street – London

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Sabia: The present study shows a detrimental effect of heavy alcohol consumption on cognitive ageing, and the effects are seen as early as 55 years old.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Sabia: Heavy alcohol consumption is known to be detrimental for health. So the results were not surprising. They add that heavy alcohol consumption is also detrimental for the brain and the effects can be observed as soon as 55 years old.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Sabia: The findings are in agreement with previous studies and suggest that moderate alcohol consumption is probably not deleterious for cognitive outcomes.  However, this study adds to the evidence that heavy alcohol consumption (≥36 g/day, ≥ 4 UK drinks per day) is deleterious for cognitive ageing.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Sabia: In the present study, it was not possible to examine the effect of heavy drinking on cognitive ageing as only a small number of women were heavy drinkers. It would be interesting to test whether the results found in men are also true in women.

Alcohol consumption and cognitive decline in early old age

Sabia, Alexis Elbaz, Annie Britton, Steven Bell, Aline Dugravot, Martin Shipley, Mika Kivimaki, and Archana Singh-Manoux

published ahead of print January 15, 2014


Last Updated on January 16, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD