Alcohol intake and risk of dementia

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004 Apr;52(4):540-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2004.52159.x.


Objectives: To examine the association between intake of alcoholic beverages and risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and dementia associated with stroke (DAS) in a cohort of elderly persons from New York City.

Design: Cohort study.

Setting: The Washington Heights Inwood-Columbia Aging Project.

Participants: Nine hundred eighty community-dwelling individuals aged 65 and older without dementia at baseline and with data on alcohol intake recruited between 1991 and 1996 and followed annually.

Measurements: Intake of alcohol was measured using a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire at baseline. Subjects were followed annually, and incident dementia was diagnosed using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria and classified as AD or DAS.

Results: After 4 years of follow-up, 260 individuals developed dementia (199 AD, 61 DAS). After adjusting for age, sex, apolipoprotein E (APOE)-epsilon 4 status, education, and other alcoholic beverages, only intake of up to three daily servings of wine was associated with a lower risk of AD (hazard ratio=0.55, 95% confidence interval=0.34-0.89). Intake of liquor, beer, and total alcohol was not associated with a lower risk of AD. Stratified analyses by the APOE-epsilon 4 allele revealed that the association between wine consumption and lower risk of AD was confined to individuals without the APOE-epsilon 4 allele.

Conclusions: Consumption of up to three servings of wine daily is associated with a lower risk of AD in elderly individuals without the APOE epsilon-4 allele.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease* / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / etiology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / prevention & control
  • Apolipoprotein E4
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Beer / statistics & numerical data
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Dementia* / epidemiology
  • Dementia* / etiology
  • Dementia* / prevention & control
  • Diet Surveys
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke* / epidemiology
  • Stroke* / etiology
  • Stroke* / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Wine / statistics & numerical data


  • Apolipoprotein E4
  • Apolipoproteins E