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.





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…
Among lifestyle-related factors, low to moderate alcohol drinking has been proposed as a protective factor 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, VaD) in several longitudinal studies, but contrasting findings also exist. Furthermore, many of these studies were limited by cross-sectional design, restriction by age or sex, or incomplete ascertainment. Different outcomes, beverages, drinking patterns, or follow-up periods, or possible interactions with other lifestyle-related (i.e., smoking) or genetic factors [i.e., apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotyping] may be sources of great variability. Light to moderate alcohol use may be associated with a reduced risk of unspecified incident dementia and AD, while for VaD, cognitive decline,…
BACKGROUND: dementia and cognitive decline have been linked to cardiovascular risk. Alcohol has known negative effects in large quantities but may be protective for the cardiovascular system in smaller amounts. Effect of alcohol intake may be greater in the elderly and may impact on cognition. METHODS: to evaluate the evidence for any relationship between incident cognitive decline or dementia in the elderly and alcohol consumption, a systematic review and meta-analyses were carried out. Criteria for inclusion were longitudinal studies of subjects aged >or=65, with primary outcomes of incident dementia/cognitive decline. RESULTS: 23 studies were identified (20 epidemiological cohort, three retrospective matched case-control nested in a cohort). Meta-analyses suggest that small amounts of alcohol may be protective against dementia (random effects…
Currently, there is discrepancy regarding alcohol's impact on Alzheimer's disease (AD). Consequently, the purpose of this systematic review was to determine whether alcohol serves as a protective agent against the development of AD, as well as whether protective effects are influenced by quantity and/or frequency of drinking. Adapted versions of the Matrix Method and PRISMA guidelines were used in order to identify, organize, and synthesize relevant research. Overall, there is no consensus regarding alcohol's impact on AD. Specifically, seven articles suggested drinking alcohol decreases the risk of AD, three studies found drinking led to an increased risk of AD, and yet another nine reported alcohol had no impact on AD. Validity and consistency of both alcohol and AD measures across…
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