Health, Women's Health

Moderate Drinking Is Good For Old Brains

For some people, such as those in the white middle class, moderate drinking appears to improve cognitive health in old age, meaning 85 and going.  That’s right, 85. A news release from the University of California at San Diego reports that researchers at the school found that among men and women 85 and older, those who drank “moderate to heavy” amounts of alcohol five to seven days a week were twice as likely to be cognitively healthy than non-drinkers. Cognitive health was assessed every four years over the course of the 29-year study, using a standard dementia screening test. What exactly is “moderate” drinking? The researchers define it as one alcoholic beverage a day for adult women of any age and men aged 65 and older; and up to two drinks a day for adult men under age 65. Heavy drinking is defined as up to three alcoholic beverages per day for women of any adult age and men 65 and older; and four drinks a day for adult men under 65. Drinking more than these amounts is categorized as excessive. The researchers are careful to note that the data derive from a relatively homogenous population in a geographically well-defined area. All of the 1,344 older adults (728 women; 616 men) who participated in the study are from Rancho Bernardo, a white-collar, middle-to-upper-middle-class suburb in San Diego County. More than 99 percent of the study participants, tracked from 1984 to 2013, are Caucasian with at least some college education.

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