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Research Summary

Wine, but Not Other Alcoholic Beverages, Associated with Less Dementia

Few studies have examined whether moderate amounts of different alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, and spirits, have similar protective effects for the risk of dementia. Swedish researchers conducted a prospective study to address the question in a random sample of 1462 Swedish women aged 38–60 years at baseline and followed over 34 years. Of this sample, 162 women developed a diagnosis of dementia. Alcohol intake and other lifestyle habits were recorded at baseline and on 3 subsequent occasions. Results were as follows:

  • Wine was protective for dementia in a statistical analysis that included alcohol drinking at baseline and during follow-up, with the strongest association among women whose only alcohol consumption was wine.
  • The association was stronger among smokers than among nonsmokers.
  • Consumption of spirits at baseline was associated with a slightly increased risk of dementia.
  • Beer consumption did not have an effect on dementia risk; however, its association with longevity was comparable to that of wine.


In this study, women who consumed only wine had a large decrease in risk of dementia that was not seen with beer or spirits. The analysis was well-done. Researchers studied a population -based sample, they included not only baseline data on alcohol intake but repeated updates over 34 years, and there were enough never-drinkers (20–25%) to provide an appropriate comparison group. Although these findings from analyses that adjusted for education and social class suggest that only wine decreases the risk of dementia, the possibility remains that other lifestyle factors may have influenced the results.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD


Mehlig K, Skoog I, Guo X, et al. Alcoholic beverages and incidence of dementia: 34-year follow-up of the prospective population study of women in Göteborg. Am J Epidemiol. 2008;167(6):684–691.