Drinking alcohol, particularly wine, in moderation may lower the risk of dementia, finds a review of previous studies.
Researchers at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine found that moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment.
On the other hand, heavy drinking was associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment, but the researchers said this finding was not statistically significant.
Moderate drinking is generally defined as a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Heavy drinking is more than three to five drinks per day.
"We don't recommend that non-drinkers start drinking. But moderate drinking if it is truly moderate can be beneficial," said study co-author Professor Edward J. Neafsey.
It's unknown why alcohol may have a beneficial affect but the researchers suggest it may be due to the cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, such as raising good HDL cholesterol, which can improve blood flow in the brain and therefore brain metabolism.
The study, which was an analysis data from more than 365,000 people who took part in 143 studies since 1977, appears in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment.
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