Drinking This Much Alcohol Can Slash Your Dementia Risk, Study Finds
It could be the key to maintaining your cognitive health as you age.
Receiving a dementia diagnosis can be life-altering. The condition is progressive, terminal, and frequently robs those with it of their faculties over time, from their memory to their motor function.
While there is currently no cure for dementia, research suggests that there may be ways to reduce your risk of developing the condition to begin with. In fact, a study reveals that drinking a specific amount of alcohol could be the key to slashing your dementia risk. Read on to find out how much alcohol reduces your risk of dementia.
Drinking under 14 drinks a week lowers your dementia risk.
You don't have to cut out those glasses of wine with dinner or occasional nightcaps to keep your brain cognitively fit as you age, new research suggests.
A study published in The BMJ followed 9,087 participants, who were between 35 and 55 years old at the beginning of the study, over the course of 23 years.
The study found that people who regularly drank more than 14 drinks during a seven-day period had higher rates of dementia than those who drank between one to 14 drinks weekly. The study's authors also found that individuals who drank under 14 drinks a week were more likely to drink wine, while those who drank more than 14 drinks a week were more likely to drink beer. "Overall, no evidence was found that alcohol consumption between 1 unit/week and 14 units/week increases the risk of dementia," the study's authors explained.
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The addition of one daily drink significantly increased dementia rates.
While sticking to two drinks a day—or fewer—may help lower your dementia risk, increasing by as little as a single drink a day could make the probability of future cognitive impairment soar.
According to the BMJ study, among individuals who typically drank more than 14 drinks in a week, increasing that number by just seven drinks was linked to a 17 percent increase in dementia risk. An increase of seven weekly drinks was also associated with a higher risk of alcohol-related hospital admission among study participants.
Abstaining from alcohol was also associated with increased risk.
If you're thinking of giving up alcohol entirely to protect your cognitive faculties as you age, you may want to reconsider. According to the BMJ study's authors, teetotalers were at a higher risk of developing dementia than those who drank in moderation.
However, the study's authors posited that it wasn't just the lack of alcohol that contributed to abstainers' increased dementia risk. "Multistate models showed that part of the excess risk of dementia in abstainers was attributable to the greater risk of cardiometabolic disease in this group," the study's authors explained.
Wine may have particularly protective effects against dementia.
While it seems as though drinking any type of alcohol in moderation may be more effective in terms of reducing your dementia risk than abstaining completely, wine may be your best bet in terms of staying cognitively fit.
According to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, drinking wine conferred protection against the development of Alzheimer's disease in particular, with the effects being particularly pronounced among those with a family history of dementia.