Alcohol consumption and cognitive performance: a Mendelian randomization study

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

September 15, 2014


AimsTo use Mendelian randomization to assess whether alcohol intake was causally associated with cognitive function.DesignMendelian
randomization using a genetic variant related to alcohol intake (ADH1B
rs1229984) was used to obtain unbiased estimates of the association
between alcohol intake and cognitive performance.SettingEurope.ParticipantsMore than 34 000 adults.MeasurementsAny
versus no alcohol intake and units of intake in the previous week was
measured by questionnaire. Cognitive function was assessed in terms of
immediate and delayed word recall, verbal fluency and processing speed.FindingsHaving
consumed any versus no alcohol was associated with higher scores by
0.17 standard deviations (SD) [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.15,
0.20] for immediate recall, 0.17 SD (95% CI = 0.14, 0.19) for delayed
recall, 0.17 SD (95% CI = 0.14, 0.19) for verbal fluency and 0.12 SD
(95% CI = 0.09, 0.15) for processing speed. The minor allele of
rs1229984 was associated with reduced odds of consuming any alcohol
(odds ratio = 0.87; 95% CI = 0.80, 0.95; P = 0.001; R2 = 0.1%; F-statistic
 = 47). In Mendelian randomization analysis, the minor allele was not
associated with any cognitive test score, and instrumental variable
analysis suggested no causal association between alcohol consumption and
cognition: −0.74 SD (95% CI = −1.88, 0.41) for immediate recall, −1.09
SD (95% CI = −2.38, 0.21) for delayed recall, −0.63 SD (95% CI = −1.78,
0.53) for verbal fluency and −0.16 SD (95% CI = −1.29, 0.97) for
processing speed.ConclusionsThe
Mendelian randomization analysis did not provide strong evidence of a
causal association between alcohol consumption and cognitive ability.

Published in


Volume and page numbers

Volume: 109 , p.1 -1






© 2014 The Authors. Addiction published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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