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Study: Moderate Social Drinking Can Curb Dementia

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 17, 2011 8:35PM

Seth Anderson's Papa Dobles.
A new study released by Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine indicates that moderate social drinking can help reduce the risks of contracting dementia and cognitive impairment.

Researchers reviewed studies of over 365,000 test subjects dating back to 1977 and found participants who drank regularly were 23 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other cognitive disorders.

Edward J. Neafsey, Ph.D., who authored the study with Michael A. Collins, Ph.D., said this isn't an excuse to continue your habit.

"We don't recommend that nondrinkers start drinking," Neafsey said. "But moderate drinking -- if it is truly moderate -- can be beneficial." Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.

Collins and Neafsey also found the benefits held up when adjusted for age, education, sex and whether the drinker in question was a smoker (since a cigar with a bourbon is a guilty pleasure). They don't know why the results are what they are, but suspect can improve blood flow in the brain and thus brain metabolism. Another theory is small amounts of alcohol might, in effect, make brain cells more fit. Alcohol in moderate amounts stresses cells and thus toughens them up to cope with major stresses down the road that could cause dementia.

Suddenly we don't feel guilty about the beer we opened an hour ago.