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Could moderate alcohol intake protect against dementia?


Alzheimer’s disease is a problem for families and societies. As the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s rises, so do public health care costs. Researchers are looking at hundreds of factors that may influence the development of dementia, for better or worse. One new study takes a look at alcohol consumption and the impact it has on the neurological disorder.

An excellent summary of this research is published in Psychiatry Investig which shows the association between alcohol consumption and cognition in the elderly. It provides a summary of the potential ways in which alcohol may affect cognition and the risk of dementia, both adversely and favorably. Depending on dose and drinking pattern, alcohol may have both a neuro toxic and neuro protective effect. Older people with who partake of excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction and dementia. However, people who consume alcohol regularly but at a low to moderate dose may be protecting themselves against cognitive decline and also be creating cardiovascular benefits.

The longitudinal study reviewed research between 1971 and 2011 related to alcohol and cognition. While there is no cure or preventive strategy for dementia, some studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption may lead to a lower risk of acquiring the disease.

Researchers studied alcohol consumption looking for the optimal drinking pattern. Currently they are not able to detect the mechanisms of protection. While anecdotally it seems that moderate, regular consumption of alcohol creates a protection, it can’t be definitively stated nor can it be causally related. Still, numbers do show the protection exists. Further study will find out why.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Psychiatry Investig

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