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February 2024
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Finding the Booze Balance for Brain Health

Too Much, or Too Little, Can Affect Dementia Risk, According to Study

Alcohol intake impacts Dementia Risk, study concludes.

Alcohol intake impacts Dementia Risk, study concludes.

In a recent posting, I talked about the importance of moderation in all things and used prostate cancer as an example.  How something like alcohol could be beneficial to avoiding the deadly disease when drunk in moderation, but how it can actually increase the chances of getting it when taken in excess.

Well, finding that “booze balance” also applies to dementia, for according to a new report, moderate alcohol consumption can stave off the brain disease, but it can trigger dementia if drunk in excess.

The Wake Forest University study looked at over 3,000 healthy men and women over the age of 75.  Each of the participants were part of a larger study, called the Gingko Evaluation of Memory Study.  Through this study, the researchers were able to identify which participants had zero cognitive impairment and those who had mild cognitive impairment (a number of different tests were run to determine this).  None of the participants had full-fledged dementia at the study’s outset (only about 500 of them had mild cognitive impairment; the rest were quite brain healthy).

Through questionnaires, the researchers then determined what each participant’s drinking behavior was.  In other words, were they stone-cold sober (zero drinks over the course of a week), sporadic drinkers (one to seven per week, moderate drinkers (eight to 14) or heavy drinkers (14 or more).

Here’s what they discovered at the conclusion of the six-year study:  First, about 500 of the participants went on to be diagnosed with full-fledged dementia, which is a pretty good percentage of the total (about 12 percent).  But the study’s real takeaway was how much the participants drank or didn’t drink and whether or not dementia was their fate.

They found that those who drank moderate amounts of alcohol were much less likely to be among those diagnosed with dementia – 40 percent less likely, in fact – compared to those who were heavy drinkers or light drinkers.

But what about between the heavy drinkers and light drinkers?  Which one fared better there?  You guessed it – the light drinkers.
While the light drinkers were more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than the moderate drinkers, heavy drinkers were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia as the light drinkers.

In other words, if you’re debating between too much or too little, you’re definitely better off going the “too little” route.

The study will eventually be published, but the findings were presented at the International Association Conference for Alzheimer’s in Vienna, Austria on July 13.

Now, this study defines “moderate” as between eight and 14 drinks.  If you ask me, that’s a bit much, especially if that amount is in the 12-14 range week after week.  As I wrote in my piece about moderation, I define moderate drinking as 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day, preferably one.  And I stand behind that.  It’s fine to have more than seven glasses of wine per week occasionally, but it shouldn’t go much further than eight to 10.


Related Posts

  1. Fighting Shrinkage – Part Two: Could Vitamin B12 Be Linked to Brain Size?
  2. ‘Egg’regious Health Hazard?
  3. Better Health is a Walk in the Park
  4. Fighting Shrinkage: Exercise Keeps Brain from Shrinking, Slows Alzheimer’s
  5. Study: Breast Cancer Risk Increases with Each Drink among Women

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