Amazing relationship between alcohol and memory

Low to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with better cognitive function and slower cognitive decline in middle-aged and older adults, new research suggests.

Investigators at the University of Georgia College of Public Health in Athens found that consuming 10 to 14 alcoholic drinks per week had the strongest cognitive benefit.

The findings add more weight to the growing research identifying beneficial cognitive effects of moderate alcohol consumption.

However, one of the investigators emphasized that nondrinkers should not take up drinking to protect brain function, as alcohol can have negative effects.

The analysis used data from 1996 to 2008 and included information from individuals who participated in at least three surveys.

The study included 19,887 participants, mean age 61.8 years. Most (60.1%) were women and white (85.2%). Mean follow-up was 9.1 years.

Based on self-reports, investigators categorized participants as never drinkers (41.8%), former drinkers (39.5%), or current drinkers (18.7%).

For current drinkers, researchers determined the number of drinking days per week and number of drinks per day. They further categorized these participants as low to moderate drinkers or heavy drinkers.

Results showed moderate drinking was associated with relatively high cognitive test scores.

The associations of alcohol and cognitive functions differed by race/ethnicity. Low to moderate drinking was significantly associated with a lower odds of having a consistently low trajectory for all four cognitive function measures only among white participants.

Although the mechanisms underlying the cognitive benefits of alcohol consumption are unclear, the authors believe it may be via cerebrovascular and cardiovascular pathways.