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Moderate Drinking Might Guard Against Alzheimer's
Date:7/13/2009

en the study launched, and by the end of the study 523 new cases of dementia were diagnosed.

After accounting for other illnesses, depression, activity levels and cognitive health, the authors concluded that moderate alcohol intake conferred a 37 percent drop in the risk for dementia for those whose cognitive health was normal when the study began.

"Based on this study, we cannot recommend that older adults who don't drink start drinking alcohol," Sink cautioned. "But it is reasonable to say that if you are already a light to moderate drinker, you may be at a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. However, if you already have memory or thinking problems, drinking alcohol may accelerate memory decline."

Dr. Laurel Coleman, a geriatric physician at Maine Medical Center in Portland, said the findings were "in line with what I would expect."

"It's very believable because it's very consistent with other studies around this issue and heart disease prevention work," she noted. "And moderate alcohol use has been shown to be protective against heart disease, so it makes sense to me that it might also be protective for brain health."

Greg M. Cole, associate director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles, agreed.

He noted that while the apparent protective effect of moderate alcohol consumption seemed surprisingly high, "the fact that you would see a related risk reduction is not so surprising."

Cole added, "Alzheimer's has a strong overlap with cardiovascular disease. And you have had a number of studies that have associated reduced cardiovascular disease risk with a rise in HDL levels -- so-called 'good' cholesterol' -- that can come with consuming small amounts of alcohol. And it has been thought that this could potentially impact in a positive way on the risk for vascular dementia and Alzheimer's. So there is a so
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