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Ann Epidemiol. 2007 Feb;17(2):93-9. Epub 2006 Oct 5.

Cognitive functioning in late life: the impact of moderate alcohol consumption.

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  • 1Division of Adult and Communty Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.



Sex differences in the association between moderate alcohol consumption and cognitive functioning were examined during 4 years.


Participants were 2716 US older adults 70 years and older (mean age, = 76.02 years) who were free of cognitive impairment from the Second Longitudinal Study of Aging (1994 to 2000). Multiple logistic regression models were used to predict cognitive functioning (adapted Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status) from average daily alcohol intake (no drink, one drink or less daily, and more than one drink daily) during 4 years after controlling for covariates.


Sex differences in the association between alcohol consumption and cognitive functioning were found (p < 0.01). Older adults with alcohol consumption of one drink or less per day had a lower odds of low cognitive functioning compared with abstainers for women (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.55-0.83), but not men (AOR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.69-1.34).


For older adults with a level of cognitive functioning within normal ranges, moderate amounts of alcohol, an average of one drink or less daily, was protective for women, but not men. Caution should be used in suggesting moderate alcohol consumption to maintain cognitive functioning because of the risks of consuming alcohol.

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