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Regularly high alcohol consumption may increase memory loss

Thursday January 16, 2014
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Middle-aged men who drink more than 36 grams of alcohol, or 2 1/2 drinks per day based on U.S. servings, may speed their future memory loss by up to six years, according to a study.

The study, published Jan. 15 on the website of the journal Neurology, turned up no differences in memory and executive function in former drinkers and light or moderate drinkers.

“Much of the research evidence about drinking and a relationship to memory and executive function is based on older populations,” study author Séverine Sabia, PhD, of the University College London in the United Kingdom, said in a news release. “Our study focused on middle-aged participants and suggests that heavy drinking is associated with faster decline in all areas of cognitive function in men.”

The study involved 5,054 men and 2,099 women whose drinking habits were assessed three times over 10 years. A drink was considered wine, beer or liquor. When the participants were an average age of 56, they took their first memory and executive function tests. The tests were repeated twice over the next 10 years.

The study found no differences in memory and executive function decline between men who did not drink and those who drank less than 20 grams, or less than two drinks per day based on U.S. servings.

Heavy drinkers showed faster memory and executive function declines between 1 1/2 and six years based on cognitive testing than did those who had fewer drinks per day.

Neurology is the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Study abstract: http://bit.ly/KjS7RW


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