Older people who regularly consume alcohol are more likely to reach 85-years-old without dementia, new research finds.
Those drinking moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol were twice as likely to be cognitively healthy as non-drinkers.
Moderate drinking was defined as around two drinks a day for men under 65, and one for women.
Heavy drinking was defined as around four drinks a day for men under 65, and two for women.
The limits for people over 65 are a little lower.
Over these levels is considered excessive.
Drinking was also linked to reduced mortality, said Dr Linda McEvoy, who led the study:
“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.”
The conclusions come from a study that followed 1,344 older adults over 29 years.
Dr Linda McEvoy said:
“It is important to point out that there were very few individuals in our study who drank to excess, so our study does not show how excessive or binge-type drinking may affect longevity and cognitive health in aging.”
One of the difficulties with these kinds of studies is that they are based on statistical associations.
That means that it can be difficult to say that drinking alcohol is really causing these cognitive benefits.
However, Erin Richard, the study’s first author, said:
“This study shows that moderate drinking may be part of a healthy lifestyle to maintain cognitive fitness in aging.
However, it is not a recommendation for everyone to drink.
Some people have health problems that are made worse by alcohol, and others cannot limit their drinking to only a glass or two per day.
For these people, drinking can have negative consequences.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Richard et al., 2017).