Middle-aged drinkers could have a reduced dementia risk

Alice Sholl
Cheers to drinking in moderation [Photo: Pexels]

Drinking alcohol is usually one of the first things to go while embarking on a health binge – which may be good news for our livers.

But for our brains? Perhaps not. A study published in the British Medical Journal has revealed that people who abstain from drinking in middle age could actually be at heightened risk of dementia in later life.

Researchers tracked the health of more than 9,000 people who were between 35 and 55-years-old when the study began in the 1980s.

They were followed up for an average of 23 years, during which 397 cases of dementia were recorded.

A few beers here or there aren’t such a bad idea after all [Photo: Pexels]

The results revealed that being tee-total in midlife was associated with a 45% higher risk of dementia, compared to those who consumed between one and 14 units of alcohol a week.

In addition, those who reported a decrease in alcohol consumption also seemed to have an increased risk too.

Downing an endless number of mai tais won’t protect you from the syndrome, however; participants who drank more than 14 units a week also had an increased risk.

This also rose the more they drank; for every seven-unit-per-week increase, there was a 17% dementia risk rise.

Another reason to not feel guilty for that mid-week glass of vino [Photo: Pexels]

The study’s authors noted: “These results suggest that abstention and excessive alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of dementia, although the underlying mechanisms are likely to be different in the two groups.

“Overall, no evidence was found that alcohol consumption between 1 unit/week and 14 units/week increases the risk of dementia.”

So, in case someone hadn’t told you already, moderation is key.

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