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Moderate drinking can improve cognitive health for the elderly, the study says

Low to moderate drinking was defined as less than eight drinks per week for women and less than 15 drinks per week for men.

The results support previous research that found that generally one drink per day for women and two per day for men – which is the guide of the United States – seems to offer some cognitive benefits.

A standard alcoholic beverage in the United States is defined as 14 grams or milliliters of alcohol. That measurement varies across the world; for example, a standard drink is 8 grams in the UK and 10 grams in Australia. In Australia the guidelines suggest no more than 10 standard drinks per week.

“There is now a lot of observational evidence showing that light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with better cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia than abstention from alcohol,”

; said senior senior researcher Kaarin Anstey, director of the NHMRC Dementia Center for Research Collaboration in Australia, which was not involved in the study.

However, a major global study released last year found that no amount of liquor, wine or beer is safe for general health. He found that alcohol was the main risk factor for disease and premature death in men and women aged 15 to 49 worldwide in 2016, accounting for nearly one in 10 deaths.
Drinking under the age of 15, a growing problem in the United States and other countries, was not included in the global analysis.
No amount of alcohol is good for general health, says a global study

“What we do know for sure is that drinking too much alcohol definitely damages the brain in a major way. What is less clear is whether low to moderate intake can be protective in some people or whether total abstinence is the best advice. , “said neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, founder of the Alzheimer Prevention Clinic at the NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“Based on conflicting studies, at the moment I don’t think we can know for sure if anyone against low to moderate consumption is the best in every single person,” said Isaacson, who was not involved in any of the studies.

Not protective for African Americans

The new study, published Monday in JAMA, analyzed data on nearly 20,000 participants in the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal panel study that examines a representative sample of Americans on a variety of health problems.

The study participants, who were predominantly white, female and with an average age of 62, underwent cognitive tests from 1996 until 2008 and were examined every two years for approximately nine years.

What too much alcohol can do for your health

Compared to those who claimed never to have drunk, low to moderate consumption was associated with significantly higher cognitive scores for mental state, word recall and vocabulary over time, as well as lower rates of decline in each of these areas.

Interestingly, the new study did not find the cognitive benefit valid for African Americans.

“Few studies have evaluated whether the effects are similar in different racial or ethnic groups,” said Anstey. “This [finding] it increases the possibility that ethnic groups may vary in their vulnerability to the cognitive effects of alcohol. “

“This may make sense because of the increased likelihood of medical comorbidities such as diabetes in blacks,” said Isaacson.

However, Anstey warned, there are some basic factors to consider before defaulting on any conclusion that drinking varies by race.

“Alcohol consumption patterns are associated with socioeconomic status and other cultural factors,” he said. “It is very difficult to untangle the biological from the social mechanisms at stake here.”

In the end, this new study doesn’t change what many doctors already recommend, experts say.

“In my clinical practice, I look at the totality of the evidence and then identify the recommendations for the person being treated,” said Isaacson.

For women, a general maximum goal is around 4-6 drinks per week in her Alzheimer’s prevention clinic, she said. In men who would have 10-12 servings per week.

“But this isn’t a one-size-fits-all option,” added Isaacson. “These decisions should be adapted based on body weight, for example, and also modified based on whether the person has a history of alcohol or substance abuse.

“Also, it’s not just about” what and how much “alcohol, it’s also important to consider” when and how “alcohol is consumed, Isaacson said.

For example, drinking a glass of wine with an early dinner is “more sensible than two late-night glasses on an empty stomach near bedtime,” he said.

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“Alcohol tends to worsen overall quality sleep before going to bed, which also affects the risk of dementia,” he added.

“I believe that for those who drink alcohol, they should follow national guidelines as a guide for maximum safe consumption,” Anstey said, adding that this does not apply to anyone with a health condition that requires abstinence from alcohol.

And if you’re not a drinker, don’t start, he said.

“Drinking alcohol, for example, increases the risk of some cancers. If one doesn’t drink, then we don’t recommend taking alcohol.”

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