Alcohol could improve memory among seniors
While drinking alcohol is not typically a practice associated with brain health, according to a new study published by a trio of university research teams, light alcohol consumption among seniors may actually aid in stimulating better memory.
The research, which was conducted between the University of Texas Medical Branch, the University of Kentucky and the University of Maryland, focused on the link between late life alcohol consumption and brain volume. According to the researchers, light to moderate drinking in individuals over the age of 60 could be linked to both a greater ability to remember events, otherwise known as episodic memory, and a larger volume of the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with episodic memory.
“Compared to late life abstainers, moderate consumer had larger hippocampal volume, and light consumers had higher episodic memory,” Brian Downer, lead author on the study and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Sealy Center on Aging said. “The findings from this study provide new evidence that hippocampal volume may contribute to observed differences in episodic memory among older adults.”
The research team analyzed the survey results of more than 660 patients who reported their behaviors regarding alcohol use as well as information about their ages and general health. Using those responses as a benchmark, scientists performed MRIs and other tests on the participants to observe their brain activity and acuity. Results from the study were published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias.
However, despite any benefits that they observed, the study authors still caution that alcohol can be dangerous and harmful to health when used irresponsibly. For as many studies that show the health benefits of red wine, there are many more linking alcohol to poor sleep, failed pregnancies and even memory loss.
As with anything, alcohol is best enjoyed in moderation – according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a safe, moderate amount of alcohol is no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
Learn more about alcohol use, its risks and its potential benefits here.
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