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Two studies link alcohol and cognitive decline


Researchers from two universities have found that binge drinking significantly increases the risk of cognitive decline in older people. For women, there may be different sensitivities at different stages of life.

Danger drinking heavily at least twice a month

New research out of the UK, conducted by University of Exeter, looked at data from over five thousand adults over the age of 65. They found that people who drank heavily at least twice a month were more than 50% more likely to suffer severe cognitive decline.

Danger for women at three different ages

In another study focusing on women aged 65 and over, researchers at the National Institute for Health Research and the University of California, discovered that women were more likely to develop cognitive impairment depending on when and how much they started drinking: if the drank heavily early in life, if the drank in moderation later in life or if they began to consume alcohol later in life.

Research needed to understand why

“There has been a lot of research into the link between alcohol and dementia. What is becoming increasingly apparent is that while an occasional tipple could actually help to protect the brain, binge drinking could be linked to an increased cognitive decline. These latest studies help reinforce the link between heavy drinking and dementia, but we need much more research to better understand exactly how drinking alcohol affects the brain. In the meantime, eating well and exercising regularly are key ways of reducing your risk of dementia,” according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

In any case, there is clearly a relationship of alcohol to dementia. For those with concerns about a genetic predisposition, there may be good reason to talk to your doctor about alcohol use and the benefits of reducing consumption now.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Exeter, University of California, NIH

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