Wine drinking may cut women’s dementia risk
Women who drink wine are less likely to develop dementia over time than their teetotaling peers, while drinking hard liquor may actually boost dementia risk, Swedish researchers report.
“There may be components in wine besides (alcohol) that protect against dementia,” Dr. Lauren Lissner of Goteborg University, the study’s senior author, told Reuters Health via e-mail. “Our findings are consistent with several previous reports.”
Lissner and her team looked at 1,462 women who ranged in age from 38 to 60 between 1968 and 1969 and were followed up to 2002, by which time 164 had been diagnosed with dementia. The women reported their alcohol consumption at the beginning of the study and three more times during the course of the study.
The risk of developing dementia was 40 percent lower among wine drinkers, the researchers found, while women who drank wine and no other alcohol had a 70 percent lower risk. Smokers were even more strongly protected against dementia if they drank wine only. But women who drank spirits were at 50 percent greater risk of dementia.
“There may be other characteristics of women who drink wine that protect against dementia, factors that we were not able to measure,” Lissner said. “However, it should be noted that the association was very robust and could not be explained by any other factor that we were able to measure, like education, body mass index or smoking.”
One limitation of the study, she and her colleagues note, is that it did not look at the amount of alcohol the women consumed. Nevertheless, they say, people who drink wine and nothing else tend to consume less alcohol overall than those who drink other types of liquor as well, so they may be more moderate drinkers for whom the benefits of alcohol outweigh any risks.
Drinking habits among Swedish women have changed over time, Lissner pointed out; more than half of women age 38 to 50 drink wine at least once a week, compared to less than 20 percent in the late 1960s. Women also drink more spirits than they used to, but less beer.
Given women’s increasing preference for wine, Lissner said, more research should be done on the issue. However, she added, the findings can’t be generalized to men, who tend to have different drinking habits than women, for example, being more likely to prefer spirits).
Lissner added that recommendations of whether a woman should start drinking, continue to drink, or to drink more wine for health can’t be made based on these finding.”
, continue drinking wine, or increase her wine intake.”
SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, March 15, 2008.
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