Cognitive function is an intellectual process by which we become aware of, perceive, or comprehend ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking, reasoning, and remembering.Infanthood and early childhood are the periods in life where most individuals are able to absorb and use new information the best. The capacity to learn normally slows down with age, but the overall cognitive function should not decline on a large scale in healthy individuals. Cognitive dysfunction is defined as an unusually poor mental function associated with confusion, forgetfulness and difficulty to concentrate. Factors such as ageing and disease may affect cognitive function over time. Growing evidence supports the role of vascular disease and vascular risk factors in cognitive decline, Alzheimer's Disease and dementia.


Dementia is a form of cognitive impairment where an individual loses the ability to think, remember and reason due to physical changes in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a form of dementia. AD and other types of dementia are most common in the elderly, and are associated with huge health costs. With a rapidly aging population throughout the world, factors that affect the risk of cognitive decline and dementia are of great importance. Recently, insulin resistance and hyperinsulineamia, the precursors of type 2 diabetes have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive impairment.


The moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages has consistently been associated with a decreased cardiovascular risk, so it may be hypothesized that this cardiovascular protection could also decrease vascular dementia and cognitive decline because alcohol might improve blood flow in the brain and prevent the deposit of plaques . Even though chronic abuse of alcoholic beverages can cause progressive neurodegenerative disease, many studies have suggested that a moderate intake is associated with a lower risk of dementia or cognitive impairment.


At present, there are no proven pharmaceutical drugs and therapies to prevent or treat cognitive decline or dementia, although a number of prospective epidemiologic studies have shown a lower risk of such conditions among light to moderate drinkers of wine and other alcoholic beverages in comparison with non-drinkers.  When the effect of different alcoholic beverages was examined, the results indicated that only moderate wine consumption was independently associated with better performance on all cognitive tests in both men and women. 

In the literature, there are many mechanisms proposed to explain these results. Wine may affect the risk factors for ischemic processes and stroke positively. It has been suggested that the antioxidant properties of the phenolic compounds in wine may help to prevent the oxidative damage implicated in dementia. Oxidative stress is thought to be involved in Alzheimer’s Disease by the formation of amyloid-ß protein and DNA damage in neurons in the brain. Resveratrol with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may also play a role.  In addition, alcohol increases the levels of HDL cholesterol and fibrinolytic factors resulting in a lower platelet aggregation. Furthermore, moderate consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages enhances insulin sensitivity and consequently, may improve the memory function in subjects with early AD or mild cognitive impairment.


It is also possible that the beneficial effects of moderate drinking noted in studies might just be a marker for an overall healthy lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet with whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil and moderate red wine also reduces the risk of dementia, as does exercise, social engagement, mental activities and an optimistic outlook on life.


Experimental animal studies indicated that the phenolic compounds in wine were able to prevent the formation of plaques that are associated with the development of AD and other forms of dementia.


The above summary provides an overview of the topic, for more details and specific questions, please refer to the articles in the database.





Background: Studies investigating the association between alcohol use and cognitive disorders in the elderly population have produced divergent results. Moreover, the role of alcohol in cognitive dysfunction is not clear. The aims of this study were to estimate the prevalence of alcohol-related problems in an elderly population from Brazil and to investigate their association with cognitive and functional impairment (CFI) and dementia. Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study was performed. A sample of 1,145 elderly people was examined in 2 phases. Several instruments were utilized in the first phase: the CAGE questionnaire was used to identify potential cases of alcohol-related problems, and a screening test for dementia was used to estimate CFI. The CAMDEX interview (Cambridge Examination) and DSM-IV (Diagnostic and…
The objective of this study was to assess the association between different types of alcoholic beverages and 34-year incidence of dementia. Among a random sample of 1,462 women aged 38-60 years and living in Göteborg, Sweden, in 1968-1969, 164 cases of dementia were diagnosed by 2002. At baseline as well as in 1974-1975, 1980-1981, and 1992-1993, the frequency of alcohol intake, as well as other lifestyle and health factors, was recorded and related to dementia with Cox proportional hazard regression, by use of both baseline and updated covariates. Wine was protective fordementia (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.6, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.4, 0.8) in the updated model, and the association was strongest among women who consumed wine only (HR =…
We reviewed 143 papers that described the relationship between moderate drinking of alcohol and some aspect of cognition. Two types of papers were found: (1) those that provided ratios of risk between drinkers and nondrinkers (74 papers in total) and (2) those that, although they did not provide such ratios, allowed cognition in drinkers to be rated as "better," "no different," or "worse" than cognition in nondrinkers (69 papers in total). The history of research on moderate drinking and cognition can be divided into two eras: 1977-1997 and 1998-present. Phase I (1977-1997) was the era of neuropsychological evaluation involving mostly young to middle-aged (18-50 years old) subjects. Although initial studies indicated moderate drinking impaired cognition, many later studies failed to…
Accelerated cognitive decline increases the risk of dementia. Slowing down the rate of cognitive decline leads to the preservation of cognitive functioning in the elderly, who can live independently for a longer time. Alcohol consumption may influence the rate of cognitive decline. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the associations between the total consumption of alcoholic beverages and different types of alcoholic beverages and cognitive decline at middle age. In 2613 men and women of the Doetinchem Cohort Study, aged 43-70 years at baseline (1995-2002), cognitive function (global cognitive function and the domains memory, speed and flexibility) was assessed twice, with a 5-year time interval. In linear regression analyses, the consumption of different types of alcoholic beverages…
OBJECTIVE: In several longitudinal studies, light-to-moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages has been proposed as being protective against the development of age-related changes in cognitive function, predementia syndromes, and cognitive decline of degenerative (Alzheimer's disease, AD) or vascular origin (vascular dementia). However, contrasting findings also exist. METHOD: The English literature published in this area before September 2011 was evaluated, and information relating to the various factors that may impact upon the relationship between alcohol consumption and dementia or predementia syndromes is presented in the succeeding texts. RESULTS: Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of incident overall dementia and AD; however, protective benefits afforded to vascular dementia, cognitive decline, and predementia syndromes are less clear. The equivocal findings…
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