06 May 2014 In Dementia

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 Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition) criteria were used for the clinical diagnosis of dementia in the second phase.

Results: "Heavy alcohol use" (CAGE >/= 2) was found in 92 subjects (prevalence: 8.2%). It was associated with gender (males, p < 0.001), low education (only in females, p = 0.002), and low socioeconomic level (p = 0.001, in females; p = 0.002, in males). The Mini Mental State Examination exhibited a nonlinear relationship with alcohol-related problems in females; "mild-moderate alcohol use" (CAGE < 2) presented the highest score. A significant association between alcohol-related problems and cognitive dysfunction was found only in females. "Heavy alcohol use" was associated with higher CFI and dementia rates compared to "mild-moderate alcohol use" (p = 0.003 and p < 0.001, respectively). "Mild-moderate alcohol use" had a tendency of association with lower CFI and dementia rates when compared to "no alcohol use" (p = 0.063 and 0.050, respectively).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that alcohol use does not have a linear relationship with cognitive decline.

06 May 2014 In Cardiovascular System

A large number of investigations in experimental, clinical, and epidemiological settings have given support to the idea that consumption of moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages, particularly wine, protects against coronary heart disease (CHD). Biological effects of other components of wine in human beings, however, have been hardly demonstrated, and alcohol itself has several potential adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. Not all epidemiological surveys have found protection from alcoholic beverages and in African-Americans, alcohol consumption was a risk factor for the incidence of CHD. The possibility that the lower risk of drinkers of moderate amounts of wine or other beverages is secondary to a health cohort effect in whites is not negligible, and could be discarded only in a clinical trial. In view of the potential risks of alcohol, a more cautious view about the beneficial effects of alcoholic beverages is warranted.

06 May 2014 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Alcoholic beverages may have protective cardiovascular effects but are known to increase the plasma levels of triglycerides (TG). Both TG and the ratio of TG to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (TG/HDL-cholesterol) are associated with increased cardiovascular risk. OBJECTIVES: To determine the predictive factors for variations in plasma levels of TG and the TG/HDL-cholesterol ratio in patients after they had consumed red wine for 14 days.

METHODS: Forty-two subjects (64% men, 46 +/- 9 years, baseline body mass index [BMI] 25.13 +/- 2.76 kg/m(2)) were given red wine (12% or 12.2% alc/vol, 250 mL/day with meals). Plasma concentration of lipids and glucose were measured before and after red wine consumption. Blood was collected after 12 hours of fast and alcohol abstention.

RESULTS: Red wine increased plasma levels of TG from 105 +/- 42 mg/dL to 120 +/- 56 mg/dL (P = .001) and the TG/HDL-cholesterol ratio from 2.16 +/- 1.10 to 2.50 +/- 1.66 (P = .014). In a multivariate linear regression model that included age, baseline BMI, blood pressure, lipids, and glucose, only BMI was independently predictive of the variation in plasma TG after red wine (beta coefficient 0.592, P < .001). BMI also predicted the variation in TG/HDL-cholesterol ratio (beta coefficient 0.505, P = .001, adjusted model). When individuals were divided into three categories, according to their BMI, the average percentage variation in TG after red wine was -4%, 17%, and 33% in the lower (19.60-24.45 kg/m(2)), intermediate, and greater (26.30-30.44 kg/m(2)) tertiles, respectively (P = .001).

CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with higher BMI, although nonobese, might be at greater risk for elevation in plasma TG levels and the TG/HDL-cholesterol ratio after short-term red wine consumption.

06 May 2014 In Cardiovascular System

Cardiovascular diseases are among the worldwide leading causes of shorter life expectancy and loss of quality of life. Thus, any influence of diet or life habits on the cardiovascular system may have important implications for public health. Most world populations consume alcoholic beverages. Since alcohol may have both protective and harmful effects on cardiovascular health, the identification of biochemical mechanisms that could explain such paradoxical effects is warranted. The vascular endothelium is the target of important mediating pathways of differential ethanol concentrations, such as oxidative stress, lipoproteins, and insulin resistance. Alcohol-induced endothelial damage or protection may be related to the synthesis or action of several markers, such as nitric oxide, cortisol, endothelin-1, adhesion molecules, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, and haemostatic factors. The expression of these markers is consistent with the J-shaped curve between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular health. However, there is genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity in alcohol response, and despite the apparent beneficial biochemical effects of low doses of ethanol, there is not enough clinical and epidemiological evidence to allow the recommendation to consume alcoholic beverages for abstemious individuals. Considering the potential for addiction of alcoholic beverage consumption and other negative consequences of alcohol, it would be worthwhile to identify substances able to mimic the beneficial effects of low doses of ethanol without its adverse effects.

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