Health "Even for the brain, moderation tastes much better"

“Even for the brain, moderation tastes much better”

Moderate alcohol consumption (between one and seven drinks per week) could prevent neurocognitive disorders while the effects of consumption varying between eight and fourteen drinks per week seem to have no effect on these same disorders. Conversely, the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases would increase for people who do not respect the recommended consumption limits.

Finally, when the first symptoms of neurocognitive disorders appear, the potentially positive effects of moderate consumption disappear. These are the conclusions of the latest publication in Éduc’alcool’s Alcohol and Health collection entitled “Alcohol, Alzheimer’s and other neurocognitive disorders”.

On and verify that:

There is a fairly clear link between alcohol consumption and major or minor neurocognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease;

Even if the mechanisms causing the onset of neurocognitive disorders have not yet been identified with certainty, several studies provide clues that explain the influence that various levels of alcohol consumption could have on the probability of having one or the other. other of these diseases;

The risk of having a neurocognitive disorder is three times higher in individuals with a clinical diagnosis related to alcohol consumption, than in those with no such concern;

The data is controversial regarding the effect of different types of alcohol;

Even if resveratrol in large quantities seems to have a protective effect against the risk of neurocognitive disorders, it is not certain that this effect is also present in the sole consumption of red wine.

“You have to be careful when putting forward such data. Alcohol consumption is obviously not the only factor influencing the development of neurocognitive disorders. Many other factors, such as smoking, diet or physical activity, for example, are also part of it, “said the director general of Éduc’alcool, Hubert Sacy recalling, that” alcohol does not is not a drug and that the stores that sell it are not pharmacies. “

To minimize the risk of having a neurocognitive disorder, it is better to:

comply with the recommended alcohol consumption limits,

avoid smoking,

be physically active,

eat a healthy and balanced diet.

This new Éduc’alcool publication has been reviewed by Jean Vézina, PhD, director of the School of Psychology at Laval University and member of the Quebec Research Network on Aging, Quebec Research Funds – Health (FRQS).

Beneficial and other harmful effects

Reviewing the various studies published on the subject, the publication of Éduc’alcool reports beneficial protective and deleterious effects, depending on the level of alcohol consumption on the development of Alzheimer’s disease or other neurocognitive disorders . So :

Drinkers taking between one and seven drinks per week are at a lower risk of neurocognitive disorders than long-term abstainers. However:

It is not clear that this protective effect of alcohol appears in people who have consumed alcohol in a moderate way their whole life or in those whose moderate consumption would not have started until later;

We note that in the elderly, moderate alcohol consumption can be associated with a reduced risk of having a neurocognitive disorder. More specifically, the risk would decrease by 28% for Alzheimer’s disease, by 25% for vascular dementias and by 26% for any type of neurocognitive disorder;

This beneficial effect is observed mainly in those who consume between one and seven drinks per week, but alcohol consumption ranging from eight to 14 drinks weekly in the elderly would not reduce the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease or d other types of neurocognitive disorders; it would be rather neutral.

The group of drinkers taking on average less than one drink per week would present a slightly higher risk than those consuming between one and seven drinks per week, but slightly lower than those consuming between seven and 13 per week;

Lifetime abstainers would then arrive, with a lower risk than people drinking more than 14 drinks per week;

The same trends are seen when Alzheimer’s disease is analyzed alone;

In the case of Alzheimer’s disease alone, this protective effect is more pronounced in men than in women, with a decreasing risk of
42% versus 17%.

So is it better to drink or not?

We cannot conclude with certainty from what threshold of consumption a neurocognitive disorder is due solely to excessive consumption, any more than we can affirm the threshold which would accelerate a neurocognitive disorder which would have occurred even without alcohol consumption.

However, some researchers suggest that more than 35 drinks per week for men and more than 28 for women for more than five years are enough to conclude that a neurocognitive disorder is due to alcohol.

“The in-depth analysis of this data leads us once again to this conclusion: even for the brain, moderation tastes much better,” concluded Hubert Sacy.

Publication availability

“Alcohol, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders” can be downloaded from the Éduc’alcool website ( It can also be received free of charge by contacting Éduc’alcool at 1-888-ALCOOL1. It is also available in hospitals, CLSCs and, at an upcoming date, in branches of the Société des alcools du Québec.


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