Scientists from Finland and Sweden have investigated the association between the consumption of different alcohols and the appearance of amyloid plaques in the brain, one of the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. And beer seems to have been the winner.
Beer for health?
It is now recognized that over-consumption of alcohol can have deleterious effects on the brain, even leading to dementia. But what about light to moderate consumption? This is the question that Finnish and Swedish scientists wanted to answer in a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
More specifically, the researchers looked at the association between alcohol consumption and the appearance of amyloid plaques in the brain, one of the main lesions observed in Alzheimer’s disease. Several types of alcohol were considered: wine, beer and various spirits.
Less plaques in beer drinkers
The scientists conducted their study on 125 men from a series of autopsies of the Helsinki Sudden Death Study and aged between 35 and 70 years at the time of their death. Their relatives were asked to fill in a questionnaire about the alcohol consumption history of the deceased.
At the same time, the researchers conducted observations to assess the amount of beta-amyloid protein present in the men’s brains. They then compared the results obtained and discovered an association between beer consumption and the appearance of plaques.
Indeed, the beer drinkers showed a smaller amount of amyloid plaques than the non-drinkers. On the other hand, no association was identified for the consumption of wine or spirits. The quantity of alcohol, and therefore of beer, did not show any link with the aggregation of plaques either.
Research to be continued
According to the researchers, “beer consumption could therefore protect against the aggregation of amyloid plaques in the brain” and thus against Alzheimer’s disease. This is not the first time that a study has identified benefits to this beverage. However, don’t jump on a pint to prevent dementia and neurodegenerative diseases.
For the moment, scientists have only identified an association between beer and plaques. It is impossible to say whether the drink is directly responsible for a reduction in aggregation. Especially as the mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease are still a matter of debate among experts.
Studies have also shown that the development of the disease occurs over several years or even decades, suggesting that many factors may be involved. “More studies are needed to fully understand the effects of alcohol on the aggregation of beta-amyloid protein in brain tissue,” the team concluded in its study.