Researchers from the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW found no evidence for alcohol consumption being associated with dementia risk amongst 70-90 year olds regardless of APOE ε4 carrier status, a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, in a recent study. The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disorder.
Lead author on the study, Dr Megan Heffernan said that while alcohol has been identified as a potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia, findings to date have been divided. The present study found no association between recent and previous alcohol intake and risk of dementia when examined separately, and no change with APOE ε4 status.
“One possible implication of our study is that, despite increasing research in this area, there is not enough consistent evidence to offer advice on the amount of alcohol that can be consumed to reliably reduce dementia risk,” said Dr Heffernan.
The study sought to investigate whether alcohol consumption predicts incident dementia over four years in an older community-living population and whether this was affected by the presence of the APOE ε4 gene. The study examined 594 participants from CHeBA’s Sydney Memory & Ageing Study, 48 of whom developed dementia.
Dr Heffernan said that given the relatively small number of people with dementia in the sample, the lack of findings is not enough to offer guidance about the association between amount of alcohol consumption and dementia.
CHeBA Co-Director Professor Henry Brodaty said that these findings indicated the need for comprehensive research around modifiable risk factors to ensure that advice is supported by the evidence base.
“The association between alcohol and dementia risk may need to be studied in younger age groups and over a longer period of time to better understand how alcohol influences dementia onset,” said Professor Brodaty.