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Drinking alcohol linked to decreased risk of dementia

Published 2 March 2011

Light to moderate alcohol consumption could decrease the risk of cognitive decline or dementia according to a study published in Age and Ageing today (Thursday 2 March 2011).

Researchers carried out interviews at baseline, after 1.5 years and after 3 years with 3,202 people without dementia. 217 people went on to develop dementia. A clear association between light-to-moderate drinking and reduced risk of overall dementia and Alzheimer's was found but not with vascular dementia or cognitive decline.

Alzheimer's Society comment

'The idea that a drop of your favourite tipple could reduce risk of dementia will come as welcome news to many. This latest study adds real punch to the growing argument that this could be the case. However, it is still unclear whether all types of alcohol bring the same benefits and it is likely other lifestyle factors have a part to play.

What is important is that this is not seen as a green light to hit the bottle. As well as many other health dangers, heavy drinking has been linked to an increased risk of dementia. The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.'

Dr Anne Corbett
Research Manager
Alzheimer's Society

Research Reference

Siegfried Weyerer et al 'Current alcohol consumption and its relationship to incident dementia: results from a 3-year follow-up study among primary care attenders aged 75 years and older' in Age and Ageing