A study found that moderate drinking by middle- and old-aged individuals with neither dementia nor alcohol-related disorders may have a beneficial influence on Alzheimer disease (AD). This was achieved by reducing pathological amyloid deposition rather than amyloid-independent neurodegeneration or cerebrovascular injury, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

The study focused on whether moderate alcohol intake is related to reductions in amyloid-beta (Aβ) deposition or is protective via amyloid-independent mechanisms in the living human brain since little information was available to researchers.

The present study was a part of the Korean Brain Aging Study for Early Diagnosis and Prediction of Alzheimer’s Disease. As of November 2016, 414 community-dwelling individuals with neither dementia nor alcohol-related disorders between 56 and 90 years of age were recruited from 4 sites around Seoul, South Korea.

Each participant underwent comprehensive clinical assessments comprising lifetime and current histories of alcohol intake and multimodal brain imaging, including Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography, fluorodeoxyglucose PET, and magnetic resonance imaging scans. Lifetime and current alcohol intake were categorized as no drinking, less than 1 standard drink per week, 1-13 standard drinks per week, and 14+ standard drinks per week.

A moderate lifetime alcohol intake, or 1-13 standard drinks per week, was significantly associated with a lower Aβ positivity rate compared with the non-drinking group, even after controlling for potential confounders. However, current alcohol intake was not associated with amyloid deposition.

Alcohol intake was not related to neurodegeneration of AD-signature regions or cerebral white matter hyperintensities volume, according to the researchers. The present study had some limitations, including a cross-sectional design and depended on retrospective recall for alcohol drinking history.


Kim JW, Byun MS, Yi D, et al. Association of moderate alcohol intake with in vivo amyloid-beta deposition in human brain: a cross-sectional study. PubMed.gov. 2020; 17(2): e1003022. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003022.