"Women who had up to two drinks a day scored about 20 percent higher on the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) than women who didn't drink at all or who consumed less than one drink a week," said Clinton Wright, M.D., M.S., lead author of the study and assistant professor of neurology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York. "The difference remained after adjusting for risk factors such as income, marital status, race or ethnicity and other vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and cardiac disease."
Study participants were enrolled in the Northern Manhattan Study, an ongoing study of 3,298 stroke-free residents of Northern Manhattan selected by a random digit dialing protocol. This study was conducted in a subsample of 2,215 participants with both alcohol and carotid plaque data available. Their average age was 69. Fifty-four percent of the participants were Hispanic, 25 percent black and 21 percent white.
Researchers assessed alcohol intake in structured interviews, while carotid artery plaque was measured by carotid ultrasound. "It was important for this study that all of the participants lived in the area of the same city, so they would all be subject to the same environmental influences," Wright said.
Wright cautioned that the study is limited by the use of the MMSE, which "is not a very sensitive test and doesn't address a number of cognitive domains that would be assessed by a more sensitive neuropsychiatric evaluation. Such a study is currently ongoing in this cohort."
Despite study limitations, he said the results support observations that moderate drinking is protective in women and do not support large vessel atherosclerosis as a mediating factor.
MEDICA.de; Source: American Heart Association