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Alcohol vs. Lifestyle - Alcohol & Weight

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Alcohol & Weight

Alcohol contains calories, but drinking alcohol doesn't lead to weight gain according to extensive medical research, and many studies report a small reduction in weight for women who drink. Learn more at Alcohol, Calories & Weight

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementia

• A study in France found moderate drinkers to have a 75% lower risk for Alzheimer's Disease and an 80% lower risk for senile dementia.109

• Research on 7,460 women age 65 and older found that those who consumed up to three drinks per day scored significantly better than non-drinkers on global cognitive function, including such things as concentration, memory, abstract reasoning, and language. The investigators adjusted or controlled for such factors as educational level and income that might affect the results, but the significant positive relationships remained.110

• Researchers in Australia studied 7,485 people age 20 to 64 years. They found that moderate drinkers performed better than abstainers on all measures of cognitive ability. Sex, race, education and extroversion-introversion failed to account for the findings.111

• Older people who drink in moderation generally suffer less mental decline than do abstainers, another study finds. Over one thousand persons age 65 and older were studied over a period of seven years. Overall, light and moderate drinkers experienced less mental decline than did non-drinkers.112

• Women who consume alcohol (beer, wine or distilled spirits) moderately on a daily basis are about 20% less likely than abstainers to experience poor memory and decreased thinking abilities, according to data from 12,480 women age 70 to 81 who participated in the long-term study.113

• A study of about 6,000 people age 65 and older found that moderate drinkers have a 54% lower chance of developing dementia than abstainers. The type of alcohol beverage consumed (wine, spirits, or beer) didn't make a difference in the protective effects of drinking in moderation.114

• A study of 7,983 people aged 55 of age or older in The Netherlands over an average period of six years found that those who consumed one to three drinks of alcohol (beer, wine, or distilled spirits) per day had a significantly lower risk of dementia (including Alzheimer's) than did abstainers.115

• A study of over 400 people at least 75 years old who were followed for a period of six years found that drinkers were only half as likely to develop dementia (including Alzheimer's disease) as similarly-aged abstainers from alcohol. Abstainers were defined as people who consumed less than one drink of alcohol per week.116

• Moderate drinking among older women can benefit memory according to research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Moderate drinkers performed better on instrumental everyday tasks, had stronger memory self-efficacy and improved memory performance." The performance memory tests include such topics as remembering a story, route, hidden objects, future intentions and connecting random numbers and letters. In all cases, the group who drank scored better than those who did not drink. Women who drank alcohol in moderation (defined as consuming up to two drinks of beer, wine or spirits per day) also performed better on attention, concentration, psychomotor skills, verbal-associative capacities and oral fluency.117

• A study of 1,018 men and women age 65-79 whose physical and mental health was monitored for an average of 23 years found that "drinking no alcohol, or too much, increases risk of cognitive impairment," in the words of the editor of the British Medical Journal, which published the study.

• A study of over 6,000 people in the U.K. found that those who consume as little as a single drink of alcoholic beverage per week have significantly greater cognitive functioning than teetotalers. Abstainers were twice as likely as occasional drinkers to receive the lowest cognitive functioning test scores. The beneficial mental effects of alcohol were found when a person drinks up to about 30 drinks per week, and increased with consumption. The researchers did not test the effects of higher levels of alcohol drinking. The research team suggests that alcohol (beer, wine, or liquor) improves mental functioning because it increases blood flow to the brain.118

• Moderate alcohol consumption protects older persons from the development of cognitive impairment, according to a study of 15,807 Italian men and women 65 years of age and older. Among the drinkers only 19% showed signs of mental impairment compared to 29% of the abstainers. The relationship continued even when other factors in cognitive impairment, such as age, education, and health problems were considered.119

• An 18-year study of Japanese-American men found "a positive association between moderate alcohol intake among middle-aged men and subsequent cognitive performance in later life." Moderate drinkers scored significantly higher on the Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument (CASI), which includes tests of attention, concentration, orientation, memory, and language. Both non-drinkers and heavy drinkers had the lowest CASI scores.120

• The moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with superior mental function among older women compared to abstainers in a study of 9,000 women aged 70 to 79 over a period of 15 years. The women's mental function was assessed with seven different tests. After adjusting for other factors that might affect mental function, the researchers found that the women who drank in moderation performed significantly better on five of seven tests. They also performed significantly better on a global score that combined all seven tests. The researchers found that the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on cognitive functioning was the equivalent of being one to two years younger.121

• Drinking alcohol (beer, wine or liquor) in moderation is one of the strategies that can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in later life according to a review of research conducted by scholars from the School of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. They systematically analyzed the existing research to identify how dementia can be reduced. Abstaining from alcohol and abusing alcohol are both risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia.122


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