A recent study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in January of this year, has found that regular wine consumption may reduce the risk of women developing dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The Swedish study involved 1,458 women initially aged between 38 and 60. The participants were subjected to a physical examination and completed questionnaires on social and lifestyle factors including alcohol use, cigarette use, and education levels. The study began in 1968-1969 and follow up studies were conducted in 1975, 1980-1981, 1992-1993, and at the end of the study in 2002.
At the conclusion of the study, all but 5% of the participants had died with 162 (11.1%) of the women having been diagnosed with dementia. The researchers found that after adjusting for other risk factors such as education, smoking, and BMI, wine consumption was associated with a decrease in dementia rates while spirits were associated with an increase in dementia risk. Beer consumption did not appear to be correlated with the incidence of dementia.
Women who drank wine regularly and did not drink any other form of alcohol were 70% less likely to develop dementia and as much as 81% less likely to develop dementia when former wine drinkers were included. Those who drank wine in combination with beer and/or spirits were 40% less likely to develop dementia. In contrast, regular consumption of spirits was associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia.
The study also found that although beer did not seem to protect against an individual getting dementia, both wine and beer increased the dementia-free lifetimes of participants while smoking and consumption of spirits lowered the dementia-free lifetimes of participants.
The researchers believe that it may be ingredients in wine other than ethanol that are responsible for the reduction in dementia risk because only wine and not other forms of alcohol were shown to reduce dementia risk.
The study did not differentiate between red and white wine. Red wine is known to have many beneficial compounds including flavonoids such as quercetin and epicatechin as well as polyphenols such as resveratrol that may protect against Alzheimer’s disease. It is also possible that wine drinkers may lead a healthier life style than beer or hard liquor drinkers resulting in a lower probability of dementia.
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