Several studies have been conducted on the link between consuming alcohol and Alzheimer’s disease. Most researchers are trying to answer the question: does excessive drinking lead to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease? Well, there have been some varying results in each study. Overall, the main theme in each study, is that excessive alcohol consumption does seem to elevate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease based on these attributes.


The researchers found that alcohol increased brain atrophy.

It also caused an increased number of amyloid plaques, including a greater number of smaller ones, potentially setting the stage for increased plaque proliferation in later life.


Withdrawal of alcohol increased amyloid-beta levels.

Researchers noted that acute withdrawal of alcohol increased the levels of amyloid-beta, which is a key component of amyloid plaques that accumulate in Alzheimer’s disease.


Moderate alcohol consumption increases blood sugar levels.

Researchers found that even moderate drinking caused elevations in blood sugar and markers of insulin resistance, which increases the risk not only for Alzheimer’s disease but also for other diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Moderate alcohol consumption alters anxiety and dementia-related behaviors.


You might be asking yourself, what is the difference between moderate and excessive alcohol consumption?

A unit depends on the amount of pure alcohol in a given volume and can be calculated for specific drinks here. According to the NHS, a basic guideline for units of alcohol is as follows:


  • A typical glass (175mL) of (12%) wine: 2 units
  • A pint of lower (3.6%) alcohol beer or cider: 2 units
  • A pint of higher (5.2%) alcohol beer or cider: 3 units
  • A single shot (25mL) of spirits such as whisky, gin or vodka (40%): 1 unit


From the research that has been conducted, there is no clear link between causation. Although many studies have shown that alcohol does increase effects that are typically seen in Alzheimer’s patients, this doesn’t conclude an absolute link between the two.

To find more information on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, see our blogs here.


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