The authors investigated the relation between alcohol use and cognitive decline after 11.5 years in a community sample. Findings were based on a study of 1,488 participants in the Baltimore arm of the Epidemiologic Catchment Area study, who completed the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) at three time points in 1981, 1982, and 1993-1996. The participants were divided into five groups based on the amount and frequency of alcohol intake and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM IIIR diagnosis of alcohol use disorders. The relation between level of alcohol use and MMSE score change between waves 2 and 3 of the study was examined using analysis of variance, which was then adjusted for the effects of age, race, and education. Alcohol use was associated with significantly less cognitive decline in alcohol drinkers when compared with nondrinkers for both sexes. When adjusted, a trend toward significantly less cognitive decline was seen in women drinkers, but not in men. Among female users, there was a trend toward less cognitive decline in women who used alcohol habitually as compared with those who were nonusers or heavy users. The authors conclude that, over long time periods, alcohol use is not associated with cognitive decline and, in women, may be associated with less decline.
- Alcohol drinking