Drink up but not too much!
Researchers from the University of California San Diego had a 30-year study on 1,344 adult men and women aged 55 to 84. All were from Rancho Bernardo, a middle-to-upper-middle-class suburb. They have assessed participant’s cognitive health every four years using the Mini Mental State Examination, a standard dementia screening test.
With this, they found that “moderate and heavy drinkers had 2-fold higher odds of living to age 85 without cognitive impairment relative to non-drinkers,” the researchers write in their paper. This means that moderate to heavy drinkers are more likely to not suffer from dementia or other cognitive problems by the time they reach the age of 85.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a moderate drinker drinks one standard drink per day (12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits) and a heavy drinker drinks 3 standard drinks per day, for five to seven days a week.
“This study is unique because we considered men and women's cognitive health at late age and found that alcohol consumption is not only associated with reduced mortality, but with greater chances of remaining cognitively healthy into older age,” said neuroscientist Dr Linda McEvoy, lead author of the study.
However, it’s worth noting that the sample population were ninety-nine percent white with at least some college education, and most of them are from the same socioeconomic class. Also, the study doesn’t necessarily imply that drinking is responsible for cognitive health and increased longevity.
“This study shows that moderate drinking may be part of a healthy lifestyle to maintain cognitive fitness in aging,” says Co-author Erin Richard, a graduate student at UC San Diego. “However, it is not a recommendation for everyone to drink. “
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