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Regular moderate alcohol intake has cognitive benefits in older adults
Date:7/13/2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. A glass of wine here, a nightcap there new research out of Wake Forest University School of Medicine suggests that moderate alcohol intake offers long-term cognitive protection and reduces the risk of dementia in older adults.

The study is being presented at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD), in Vienna on July 13.

While previous studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake, particularly wine, is linked with lower risk of heart attacks and dementia, most of the studies have been done in middle-aged people, and it has remained unclear if the benefits of alcohol also apply to older adults in general or to older adults who might already have some mild memory problems. This is the largest, longest U.S. study to look at the effects of regular alcohol intake on dementia in seniors, both with and without memory problems.

"As of yet, we still have no cure for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, so it is important to look for things that might help people prevent the disease," said Kaycee Sink, M.D., M.A.S (Masters of Advanced Studies in clinical research), a geriatrician and senior author of the paper. 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."

For the study, researchers began by examining and interviewing 3,069 individuals, 75 years or older and most without any memory or thinking problems, about their drinking habits. Participants were asked about beer, wine, and liquor. The investigators then categorized the individuals as abstainers (non-drinkers), light drinkers (one to seven drinks per week), moderate drinkers (eight to 14 drinks per week), or heavy drinkers (more than 14 drinks per week). All types of alcohol were included.

The study subjects were then examined and interviewed eve
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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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