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Alcohol use and cognitive aging in middle-aged men: The Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 April 2022

Alexis C. Garduno
Affiliation:
Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
Gail A. Laughlin
Affiliation:
Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
Jaclyn Bergstrom
Affiliation:
Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
Xin M. Tu
Affiliation:
Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
Kevin M. Cummins
Affiliation:
Department of Public Health, California State University, Fullerton, CA, USA
Carol E. Franz
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA Center for Behavior Genetics of Aging, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
Jeremy A. Elman
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA Center for Behavior Genetics of Aging, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
Michael J. Lyons
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
Chandra A. Reynolds
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA, USA
Michael C. Neale
Affiliation:
Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA
Nathan A. Gillespie
Affiliation:
Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA
Hong Xian
Affiliation:
Department of Statistics, St Louis University, St Louis, MO, USA Research Service, VA St Louis Healthcare System, St Louis, MO, USA
Ruth E. McKenzie
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA Department of Applied Human Development and Community Studies, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA, USA
Rosemary Toomey
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
William S. Kremen
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA Center for Behavior Genetics of Aging, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
Matthew S. Panizzon
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA Center for Behavior Genetics of Aging, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
Linda K. McEvoy*
Affiliation:
Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
*
Corresponding author: Linda K. McEvoy, email: lkmcevoy@health.ucsd.edu

Abstract

Objective:

To determine associations of alcohol use with cognitive aging among middle-aged men.

Method:

1,608 male twins (mean 57 years at baseline) participated in up to three visits over 12 years, from 2003–2007 to 2016–2019. Participants were classified into six groups based on current and past self-reported alcohol use: lifetime abstainers, former drinkers, very light (1–4 drinks in past 14 days), light (5–14 drinks), moderate (15–28 drinks), and at-risk drinkers (>28 drinks in past 14 days). Linear mixed-effects regressions modeled cognitive trajectories by alcohol group, with time-based models evaluating rate of decline as a function of baseline alcohol use, and age-based models evaluating age-related differences in performance by current alcohol use. Analyses used standardized cognitive domain factor scores and adjusted for sociodemographic and health-related factors.

Results:

Performance decreased over time in all domains. Relative to very light drinkers, former drinkers showed worse verbal fluency performance, by –0.21 SD (95% CI –0.35, –0.07), and at-risk drinkers showed faster working memory decline, by 0.14 SD (95% CI 0.02, –0.20) per decade. There was no evidence of protective associations of light/moderate drinking on rate of decline. In age-based models, light drinkers displayed better memory performance at advanced ages than very light drinkers (+0.14 SD; 95% CI 0.02, 0.20 per 10-years older age); likely attributable to residual confounding or reverse association.

Conclusions:

Alcohol consumption showed minimal associations with cognitive aging among middle-aged men. Stronger associations of alcohol with cognitive aging may become apparent at older ages, when cognitive abilities decline more rapidly.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2022

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