Research has revealed that drinking alcohol regularly could enable people to live longer, while reducing the risk of developing dementia.
A study, led by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, has found that older people who drink alcohol on a regular basis were less likely to develop cognitive impairments than their non-drinking peers.
“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 Linda McEvoy, senior author and an associate professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
The research discovered that, among the participants, all of whom were 85 or older, those who drank moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol at least five times a week were twice as likely to be cognitively healthy.
Researchers analysed the participants’ cognitive health every four years over a 29-year period, using the standard test used to screen for dementia, the Mini Mental State Examination.
The researchers categorised moderate drinking as up to one alcoholic beverage a day for women and men 65 or older, with this cut-off point rising to two drinks a day for men under 65. Meanwhile, heavy drinking was defined as up to three alcoholic drinks per day for women or men over 65, and four a day for men under 65.
“It is important to point out that there were very few individuals in our study who drank to excess, so our study does not show how excessive or binge-type drinking may affect longevity and cognitive health in ageing,” said Professor McEvoy said.
“This study shows that moderate drinking may be part of a healthy lifestyle to maintain cognitive fitness in ageing,” said Erin Richard, lead author on the study.
“However, it is not a recommendation for everyone to drink. Some people have health problems that are made worse by alcohol, and others cannot limit their drinking to only a glass or two per day.
“For these people, drinking can have negative consequences.”