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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2009 Sep;85(3):322-7. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2009.06.023. Epub 2009 Jul 21.

The relation between moderate alcohol consumption and cognitive function in older women with type 2 diabetes.

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  • 1Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 181 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



To examine the association between moderate drinking, cognitive function, and cognitive decline in women with type 2 diabetes.


From 1995 to 2001, we assessed cognitive function in 1,698 women aged 71-80 years with type 2 diabetes in the Nurses' Health Study. Assessments were repeated twice at 2-year intervals. We used linear regression to estimate multivariable-adjusted mean differences in initial cognitive function and longitudinal models to estimate cognitive decline over 4 years, according to average alcohol intake between diagnosis with diabetes and the initial cognitive measurement.


At the initial assessment, the mean score on our test of general cognition was 0.31 (95% CI 0.02, 0.60) points higher in women who were moderate alcohol drinkers (those consuming 1.0-9.9 g of alcohol, or about 1 drink, per day) compared with abstainers. However, moderate alcohol was not associated with cognitive decline. Higher alcohol consumption (10.0-30.0 g of alcohol per day) was not associated with initial cognition or cognitive decline, although there was no apparent harm either.


Among women with type 2 diabetes, moderate alcohol was associated with better initial cognition, but not reduced rates of cognitive decline. Thus, we found no clear and consistent cognitive benefits of moderate alcohol in diabetes.

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