Dec 12, 2017 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Alcohol Lowers Risk Of Death In People With Alzheimer's, Study Suggests

Dec 13, 2015 10:41 PM EST

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A current study suggests that risk of premature death in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease can be lowered with moderate consumption of alcohol.

"Considering that AD is a neurodegenerative disorder and that alcohol has known neurotoxic effects, one could easily jump to the conclusion that alcohol is damaging for patients with AD. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the positive association between moderate alcohol intake and mortality shown in population-based studies on healthy subjects can be transferred to patients with mild AD," the authors from the University of Copenhagen stated.

The study was participated by more than 320 individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The figure showed a 77 percent lower chance of dying when two to three alcoholic drinks are consumed in a day; this is compared with those who take one or less drinks. This is equal to one 25 mL of whisky (40 percent), a third of a pint of beer (5 to 6 percent) or a 175 mL glass of red wine (12 percent).

"The results of our study point towards a potential, positive association of moderate alcohol consumption on mortality in patients with Alzheimer's disease," Sine Berntsen and colleagues explained. "However, we cannot solely, on the basis of this study, either encourage or advise against moderate alcohol consumption in [these] patients," the authors said. They made it clear that a causal relationship has not been proven, and they only found association between alcohol consumption and lower mortality rate in people with Alzheimer's disease.

In a long-term study, patients were followed up for three years. Their respective caregivers report the number of drinks they consume per day. In that period, more than half of the participants already passed away.

Of the patients under study, almost three fourths of the patients only take one or less alcoholic drinks in a day. Those who are "moderate" drinkers only consume between two and three drinks, which comprised 17 percent of the study population. And only nearly 4 percent drinks more than three daily.

The reduced risk of death remained after taking other factors like age, gender, educational level, smoking habit, quality of life and other health-related illnesses already taken into consideration. Authors suggest that moderate drinker's lifestyle, particularly social life, helped improve its quality. Nevertheless, they pointed out that further research on how alcohol consumption could affect mental health and disease progression of Alzheimer's disease still needs to be done.

"Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol intake could have a protective effect on the brain but further research is needed to explore this and help determine a specific "safe" level of alcohol consumption for healthy people and those living with dementia," the authors explained.  

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