Moderate alcohol drinking may protect cognitive function in older people, this study shows

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In a new study, researchers found low-to-moderate alcohol drinking may be linked to better cognition in middle-aged and older adults.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of Georgia College of Public Health in Athens.

The team used data from the Health and Retirement Study, which assessed cognitive functions in 19,887 participants in 1996 through 2008 to assess links between alcohol drinking and cognitive function.

The researchers found that low-to-moderate drinking (fewer than eight drinks per week for women and fewer than 15 for men) was strongly linked to a high cognitive function trajectory and a lower rate of cognitive decline.

Furthermore, low-to-moderate drinking was linked to less cognitive function decline, mental status, word recall, and vocabulary compared with never drinkers.

The team found a U-shaped association between the dosage of alcohol consumed and all cognitive function domains for all participants, with an optimal dose of 10 to 14 drinks per week.

The study provides further evidence that among a nationally representative sample of middle-aged or older adults, low-to-moderate drinking was linked to the protection of cognitive functions that may decrease with age.

One author of the study is Ruiyuan Zhang, M.D.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open.

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