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Moderate alcohol intake ‘cuts dementia risk’

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Older people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have a lower risk of developing dementia, latest study results suggest.

US researchers studied the relationship between alcohol intake and dementia in 3,069 people aged 75 and over. At the start of the six-year study, 2,587 of the participants had no signs of memory problems, while 482 had mild cognitive impairment.

The researchers found that those with normal cognitive function who consumed one to two alcohol drinks a day - between eight and 14 drinks a week - were significantly less likely to develop dementia than those who were either light or heavy drinkers, or abstained from alcohol altogether.

However, for older adults with mild cognitive impairment, consuming any amount of alcohol was associated with faster rates of cognitive decline.

Additionally, those who consumed more than 14 drinks per week had twice the normal risk of developing dementia.

Lead researcher Kaycee Sink, assistant professor of geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, said: ‘Our findings suggest that mild to moderate alcohol intake may reduce the risk of dementia. However, this does not appear to be true for those who already have mild cognitive impairment.

‘Current recommendations not to exceed one drink per day for women and two for men are supported by these results,’ she told delegates this week at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Vienna, Austria.

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