50+ health * Healthy living * Mental wellbeing

Moderate alcohol intake may reduce risk of dementia in the elderly

Moderate alcohol intake may reduce risk of dementia in older people Study supports previous finding for the middle-aged

Studies have previously suggested that moderate consumption of alcohol, especially wine, by middle aged people may reduce the risk of dementia.

Now a new study suggests that the same might be true for the elderly.

The US study looked at more than 3,000 adults aged 75 or older, of which 480 had some mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at the beginning of the study. All participants self-reported their alcohol consumption (which might result in under-reporting of intake), and were classified into 4 groups based on the amount of alcohol consumed per week (none, light, moderate, heavy).

They were then examined every 6 months for 6 years, and any cases of Alzheimer's or other dementia were carefully investigated. By the end of the study they found that participants in the light alcohol consumption group (1-2 drinks per day) had a 37% lower risk of dementia IF they were not in the group with MCI. Those with MCI had a faster rate of mental decline if they consumed any alcohol at all.

The leader of the study, Kaycee Sink of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, commented: "Our findings suggest mild to moderate alcohol intake may reduce the risk of dementia. However, this does not appear to be true for those who already have mild cognitive impairment. Current recommendations not to exceed one drink per day for women and two for men are supported by these results."

This article was published on Wed 15 July 2009

Image © Max Tactic - Fotolia.com

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