Modest Drinking May Improve Cognitive Function for Older Adults

In a new study, scientists have found out that low or modest drinking may improve cognitive function for ethically white middle-aged or older adults. These findings were published today in the Journal of American Medical Association.

The low or modest amount of drinking has been described as less than eight drinks per week for women and less than 15 drinks per week for men in the study. The standard amount of alcoholic drink that is considered a glass in United States is 14 grams or milliliters of alcohol.

This is not the only research which shows that drinking can help neurological functioning of human beings. Previously, another research showed that one drink a day for women and two a day for men appears to offer some cognitive benefits.

Source: Javier Zarracina/Vox

The new study analyzed data on nearly 20,000 participants from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study. The study is a longitudinal panel study that surveys a representative sample of Americans on a variety of health issues.

People who participated in the study were mostly female, white and with an average age of 62 years. All of them were given cognitive tests starting in 1996 through 2008. That means that they were surveyed every other year for approximately nine years.

The results revealed that low to moderate drinking was associated with significantly higher cognition scores for mental status, word recall and vocabulary over time, as well as with lower rates of decline.

Compared with never drinkers, low to moderate drinkers were less likely to have a consistently low trajectory for total cognitive function (odds ratio= 0.66), mental status (odds ratio= 0.71), word recall (odds ratio= 0.74), and vocabulary (odds ratio= 0.64).

In addition, low to moderate drinking was associated with decreased annual rates of total cognitive function decline (β coefficient= 0.04), mental status (β coefficient= 0.02), word recall (β coefficient= 0.02), and vocabulary (β coefficient= 0.01).

Source: JAMA

The study also found out that this relationship did not hold true for African Americans and drinking did not provide them with any cognitive benefit.

A significant ethnic difference was observed for trajectories of mental status, in which low to moderate drinking was associated with lower odds of having a consistently low trajectory for white participants (odds ratio= 0.65) but not for black participants (odds ratio= 1.02).

According to experts this might be due to variety of reason which can be biological or socio economical. The first view is that it might be due to higher likelihood of medical co-morbidities like diabetes in Blacks.

But it can also be explained by the status of a person in the society. Pattern of drinking s often connected with socio-economic status and other cultural factors. So, it is difficult to separate the biological from social mechanisms at play in this phenomenon.

Though this study and other studies have shown that alcohol consumption provides some benefit regarding better cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia compared with alcohol abstaining, there is evidence against it as well.

In a major global study released last year found that no amount of alcohol whether it is, wine or beer is safe for your overall health. The study found that alcohol was the leading risk factor for disease and premature death in men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide in 2016, accounting for nearly one in 10 deaths.

Among other issue at play here on thing that should be considered here is that drinking under the age of 15 is a growing public health problem in the US and other countries.

Excessive drinking can, over time, increase the risk of everything from liver disease to high blood pressure, dependency issues, and memory and mental health problems.

Source: Health Promotion Agency New Zealand

Though it might be not good for your overall health, moderate drinking might even offer some heart health benefits. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that moderate drinking, along with a healthful eating pattern and regular physical activity, may offer health benefits like lower risk for heart disease, mostly for middle-age and older adults.

Even though the American Heart Association cautions people not to start drinking alcohol for better heart health, both the American Heart Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietectics suggest that men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one drink per day.

Both agencies define excessive alcohol use as drinking more than three drinks per day for men or women.

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