Does heavy drinking come with any health benefit at all? A new study found that a moderate to heavy drinking may help reduce the risk of dementia by a staggering 85%.
In the study, scientists monitored the drinking habits of 1,344 older adults – 728 women and 616 men – between 1984 and 2013. The participants have undergone assessments for cognitive health every four years between 1988 and 2009 using Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).
Lead author Erin Richard, a graduate student in the joint San Diego State University/UC San Diego doctoral program in Public Health concluded that the study shows “moderate drinking may be part of a healthy lifestyle to maintain cognitive fitness in aging.”
Heavy drinkers more likely to live to 85 without dementia, study says
Although drinking multiple alcoholic beverages most nights of the week isn't typically linked to good health, the study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found that moderate and heavy drinkers have “significantly higher adjusted odds” of reaching 85 without any cognitive impairment.
In particular, men and women 85 and older who consumed “moderate to heavy” amounts of alcohol five to seven days a week were twice as likely to be cognitively healthy 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,” senior author Linda McEvoy, PhD, an associate professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said in a statement.
The study defined “heavy drinking” as up to three drinks per day for women of all ages and for men 65 years and older, and up to four drinks per day for men under the age of 65.
Image courtesy of: Wojtek Szkutnik