Study: Heavy drinking in middle age speeds cognitive decline

on 16/01/14 at 11:27 am

Booze News

imagesMiddle-aged men who consume an average of more than 2½ alcoholic drinks per day accelerate the rate at which their memories decline by almost six years over a 10-year span, says a new study. And while a higher consumption of spirits such as vodka, gin, whiskey or scotch was linked to the fastest rates of mental decline in men, researchers saw little difference between the cognitive loss seen in heavy beer drinkers (who drank more than 2½ 12-ounce beers per day) and that seen in men who quaffed a half-bottle of wine or more per day.

Compared with men who drank no more than 1½ drinks per day on average (up to 19.9 grams of alcohol daily), those who daily drank 36 grams or more of alcohol during a 10-year stretch of their late 40s, 50s and early 60s experienced 2.4 more years of overall cognitive decline in the decade that followed.

Compared with lighter drinkers, middle-aged women who drank heavily — defined as an average daily consumption exceeding about 1½ drinks per day — suffered a speedier decline in their ability to plan, organize and focus, but not in their memory skills, the study found.

But women who had abstained from alcohol completely for a decade or more suffered the greatest loss of cognitive function of all groups in the following decade, the new research found. Compared with middle-aged women who drank no more than five drinks per week, on average, the middle-aged female abstainers experience a 50% greater loss of cognitive function in the second decade of the study.

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