Objective: To examine the relationship between alcohol, both the
amount and type, and cognitive decline in a cohort of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
Methods: A cohort of 360 patients with early AD in New York, Boston, Baltimore
and Paris were followed-up biannually for up to 19.28 years. At each visit, the
cognitive profile of the patients was assessed using the modified Mini-Mental
State Examination (mMMSE), and patients’ alcohol intake, including beverage
type, was reported by patients’ primary caregivers. General estimating equation
analysis was used to determine whether baseline alcohol use was associated with
the rate of cognitive decline.
Results: Heavy drinkers (8 or more alcoholic drinks/week) had a faster cognitive decline, deteriorating
1.849 more points on their mMMSE score annually compared to abstainers (P = 0.001), or 2.444
more points compared to mild-moderate drinkers (1-7 alcoholic drinks/week) (P = 0.008). There was
no significant difference when comparing mild-moderate drinkers to abstainers. Increasing standard
drinks of hard liquor, but not beer or wine, was also associated with a faster rate of cognitive decline
(β = -0.117 P = 0.001).
Conclusion: Heavy alcohol consumption and more hard liquor are associated with a faster rate of
cognitive decline in AD patients, suggesting that they may hasten progression of AD. Our results suggest
that alcohol drinking habits might alter the course of AD.