Time for your Cocktail, Millie!

September 16th, 2009 | Sources: BurrillReport

News about the health effects of alcohol had been distressingly negative of late. First came  a study from Oxford which showed that one lousy alcoholic beverage per day increased the risk of cancer in women.

Then, Harvard scientists reported that people who consume 2 or more alcoholic drinks per day had a 22% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Festive tiki drinksBut now, there’s some news we can toast: moderate drinking, scientists say, reduces dementia  in older adults!

Kaycee Sink and colleagues at Wake Forest University found that over a 6-year period, people with normal cognition who were at least 75 years old and drank 1-2 alcoholic beverages per day had a 37% lower risk of developing dementia than teetotalers.

The type of alcohol did not impact these findings.

“We have no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, so it is important to look for things that might help prevent the disease,” senior study author Kaycee Sink, a geriatrician told BurrillReport.

Sink presented the findings at last month’s annual meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association.

For the study, Sink’s group examined and interviewed 3,069 individuals at study onset and then again every 6 months for 6 years. They tracked changes in memory and cognition during each visit.

Ah, but there’s a catch. For older adults who had mild cognitive impairment at study onset, alcohol consumption in any amount was associated with more rapid cognitive decline.

The finding was pronounced among subjects classified as heavy drinkers.  For those who consumed more than 2 drinks per day, the likelihood of developing dementia during the study was nearly twice that for abstainers with mild cognitive impairment.

The scientists concluded their findings support current recommendations to not exceed two drinks per day in men, and one drink per day in women.


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