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Tuesday 25th October 2016

'Some drinking' wards off dementia

1st September 2009

According to new Australian research, people who drink occasionally in later life are less likely to develop dementia than their peers who do not drink at all.


Drinking in excess does not have any positive effect upon ageing.

The researchers noted the correlation between people who drank light to moderate amounts of alcohol in the results of 15 different studies conducted among some 10,000 people.

Kaarin Anstey, of the Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) at Australia National University and leader of its Ageing Research Unit, said that she and her team looked at the results of studies that followed up with participants at intervals over two to eight years, then used statistical analysis to synthesise the results and to weight the studies according to their sample size.

She said they found that light to moderate drinkers were 28% less likely to develop Alzheimer's than non-drinkers, 25% less likely to develop vascular dementia, and 26% less likely to develop any form of dementia at all.

While some of the studies linking alcohol consumption to dementia were conducted in depth, others only reported whether or not participants consumed alcohol.

When the extent of these people's drinking was not explored, the percentages were different.

Members of those studies managed to reduce their risk of Alzheimers by 44%, and their risk of dementia by 47%.

The Australian research team also found that the effect of alcohol upon the incidence of dementia was the same for both men and women.

Anstey said that it should be noted that the studies consulted on this topic nearly all focused on older adults and their drinking habits.

She said that there was not yet enough scientific data published to draw conclusions about how early life alcohol consumption affects later dementia risk, and that her team did not analyse the type of alcohol beverages consumed as there were not enough studies that reported results separately for drinkers of beer, wine or spirits.

While it wasn't clear to the research team why light to moderate drinkers were less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer's disease, Anstey said that the positive social interactions associated with drinking, and the reduced incidence of inflammation and heart disease associated with light to moderate drinking might both play a role.


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