People who drink alcohol every day are less likely to get dementia

Pass the (moderately-sized) glass of red

David Maclean
Wednesday 02 August 2017 13:12 BST
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Drink up, because a huge university study spanning three-decades has found that heavy drinkers are more likely to live to the age of 85 without dementia.

The University of California, San Diego, has found that over-65s who indulge in up to three alcoholic drinks a day are more likely to have a happy and healthy retirement.

The study tracked more than 1,000 middle-class white men and women in the state, and is the latest to link alcohol intake to longevity.

Participants had their cognitive health assessed every four years over the course of the 29-year study, with a standard dementia screening test called the Mini Mental State Examination.

Lead author Dr Linda McEvoy said: “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.”

But it all comes with a typically annoying caveat: indulge in your favourite tipple too often and you could open yourself up to the risk of developing alcohol-related dementia.

The study group was also very homogenous – focusing on one specific region of San Diego Country, which is an affluent Californian suburb.

Heavy drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as three drinks for women and four for me, anything above these limits is considered excessive.

"It is important to point out that there were very few individuals in our study who drank to excess,” McEvoy continued, “so our study does not show how excessive or binge-type drinking may affect longevity and cognitive health in aging.”

The researchers also noted that the evidence does not suggest drinking is solely responsible for increased longevity and cognitive health.

However, they pointed out that previous studies have found that those who consume alcohol regularly, specifically wine, are more likely to having higher incomes and better education than those who don't. In turn, they are also associated with lower rates of mental illness, smoking and having access to better healthcare.

Naturally, scientists insisted that the data should not be used as a warrant for people to drink more, as they are aware that many people have health issues for which alcohol can have a damaging effect.

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