alcohol and cognitive function

FREE subscriptions for doctors and students... click here
You have 3 more open access pages.

  • excess alcohol consumption is associated with deterioration in cognitive function e.g. Wernicke's encephalopathy, Korsokoff's psychosis
  • there is however evidence that moderate alcohol consumption in women (up to one drink (15.0g of alcohol) per day) does not impair cognitive function and may actually decrease the risk of cognitive decline
    • the study investigated the affects of alcohol consumption in 12,480 participants in the Nurses' Health Study aged 70-81 who had their cognitive function evaluated and then re-evaluated after 2 years
    • consumption of up to one drink of alcohol per day (<15.0g per day) was associated with better cognitive scores than non-drinkers
    • higher levels of alcohol consumption (15-30g of alcohol per day) had no significant association with cognitive decline
      • type of alcohol consumed (wine compared with beer) was irrelevant with respect to any changes in cognitive function


  1. N Engl J Med. 2005 Jan 20;352(3):245-53

Last reviewed 05/2021