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Research Reveals Possible Alzheimer’s Prevention, Part 2

August 29th, 2011

In Part 1 of this blog, we told you about research that suggested that protective brain chemicals are generated by regular exercise. To read that blog, click here: Possible Alzheimer’s Prevention, Part 1.

Today’s blog is about a study originally published in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment which suggests another possible route to Alzheimer’s disease:  Alcohol.

According to a report in ScienceDaily, moderate social drinking may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.

Researchers from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine reviewed previous research dating back to 1977. Moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease. But because of the large number of studies and participants involved (more than 365,000 total study subjects), the researchers were able to get even more specific: Wine is more beneficial than beer. But remember, these results were for moderate drinking.

There was some suggestion that heavy drinking (more than 3 to 5 drinks per day) was associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.

According to the report in ScienceDaily:

“We don’t recommend that nondrinkers start drinking,” [Edward J. Neafsey, PhD., professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics] 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….

For people who drink responsibly and in moderation, there’s probably no reason to quit. But because of the potential for alcohol to be abused, [the researchers] do not recommend that abstainers begin drinking.

Why does research seem to help prevent cognitive impairment? The researchers don’t really know, but they had a couple of hypotheses. First, it could be a side benefit of the well-know cardiovascular benefits of moderate social drinking–anything that improves blood flow will keep the brain well-fed with oxygen and nutrients. Second, moderate drinking may serve to somehow “toughen” brain cells, a form of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Again, the key word is moderation. No one wants injury due to alcohol abuse, but if a glass of wine with dinner improves both the meal and your brain, that sounds like the best of all worlds.

To read the full article in ScienceDaily, click here:  Moderate Drinking May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

To read the abstract for the original journal article, click here:  Moderate Alcohol Consumption and Cognitive Risk