Globally, Alzheimer's disease (AD) is becoming an increasing problem as the population ages, and the effects of lifestyle factors on cognitive decline need to be better understood. This study examined the effects of alcohol abstinence on cognitive decline in AD.
Cognitive function after alcohol abstinence was retrospectively reviewed in AD patients (high and low alcohol consumption groups) and then compared with an alcohol-naïve AD group. The alcohol-naïve AD group included 18 outpatients with no history of habitual drinking. The alcohol-abstinence AD group included 20 outpatients who stopped drinking after their diagnoses. The latter group was classified into high and low groups depending on the amount of they drank before abstinence. Cognitive function was evaluated with the Mini-Mental State Examination at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. For statistical analyses, a repeated measures, two-factor anova and post-hoc multiple comparisons were performed using the Bonferroni method.
There was a significant effect of time on Mini-Mental State Examination score, but there was no difference in the baseline scores of the alcohol-naïve and alcohol-abstinence AD groups. The score was significantly lower at 6 and 12 months than at baseline in the alcohol-naïve group, but no significant difference was seen in the alcohol-abstinence group. There was a significant interaction between time and alcohol consumption subgroup on the score, with no difference in baseline score between the low and high consumption groups. The score was significantly lower only in the high consumption group at 12 months.
In AD patients with a history of habitual drinking, abstinence was effective for reducing cognitive decline during the clinical course. However, such an effect was not seen in patients who had consumed high amounts of alcohol before diagnosis of AD.