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Alcohol and Dementia: Shedding Light On The Connection

July 15, 2009

“Moderate alcohol intake has been linked to lower risk of heart attacks, stroke, dementia, and death in middle-aged adults, but there is still controversy about alcohol intake in older adults," said Kaycee Sink, MD, MAS (Masters of Advanced Studies in clinical research), a geriatrician and senior author of a paper on the largest and longest study on the topic presented at the Alzheimer’s Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Vienna. "Our results suggest that older adults who are normal cognitively and drink moderately do not need to change their drinking behavior. If you have mild cognitive impairment, however, it might benefit you to restrict your drinking and certainly not exceed one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.” For older adults who started the 6-year study with mild cognitive impairment, consumption of alcohol, at any amount, was associated with faster rates of cognitive decline. In addition, those who were classified in the heavy drinker category, consuming more than 14 drinks per week, were almost twice as likely to develop dementia during the study compared to non-drinkers with mild cognitive impairment.