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Archives for the day Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

easy way to cut dementia?

easy way to cut dementia?

A new study suggested that older people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol may have a lower risk of dementia. They found people who consumed between eight and 14 alcoholic drinks a week had a 37% lower risk of the disease than the general population. However, people who consumed more than 14 drinks a week were at twice the normal risk of developing dementia.

This study was presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers focused on 3,069 people aged 75 or older. At the beginning of the six-year study, 2,587 participants had no signs of problems with their brain while 482 had mild cognitive impairment. During the study 523 new dementia cases emerged. The researchers took account of factors such as smoking, depression and social activity, and found that one or two drinks a day was associated with a 37% lower risk of dementia among those who were cognitively normal at the start of the study. Anyhow, among those who already had mild cognitive impairment alcohol intake was associated with faster cognitive decline.

Why a moderate amount of alcohol seems to be good for the brain is not clear. Lead researcher said that there are several possible ways in which moderate drinking might be associated with reduced risk of dementia. One is the same as the way we think moderate alcohol reduces the risk of heart disease, by beneficial effects on HDL cholesterol and blocking platelets. And, animal studies have shown that low amounts of alcohol stimulate the release of acetylcholine, a chemical in the brain that is important in memory. Although moderate alcohol intake does appear to reduce dementia risk, exceeding one to two drinks per day on a regular basis – becoming a heavy drinker – may double risk of developing dementia.