People who drink alcohol moderately have a 23% reduction in their risk for contracting Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Just when we were all certain that we were killing our brain cells during Happy Hour, a recently released study in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment claims quite the opposite. (You just gotta love it when new research works in your favor!)
“It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s beer, wine, or spirits, as long as the drinking was moderate,” claims Edward J. Neafsey, a pharmacology professor at Loyola University’s Alcohol Research Program. “Light to moderate” was defined as one drink a day for women and 2 for men. (And no, you can’t bank them up for the weekend.) In fact, more than 3 drinks a day had the opposite effect: a slight, but not statistically significant, increase in the risk for developing Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairment.
Diabetes and Weight Connection
In another new study of 1,000 adults over 60, those with diabetes were about twice as likely to develop dementia than those without diabetes. The study suggests that if diabetics monitor blood sugar levels after eating meals, and lower them if necessary, it may help reduce the risk of dementia in later life.
Being overweight or obese in midlife increases the risk for dementia independent of diabetes, another new study suggests. Whatever the mechanism, the important message is that chubby people need to lose weight—not that being overweight causes the dementia—it’s just that there is an eerily strong correlation between the two factors.
New Research on the Diagnosis
Falling a lot could be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s, according to a study on diagnosing the disease; and cognitive tests were better predictors of Alzheimer’s risk than biomarkers found in the blood.
In a medical record review, changes in cognitive function outperformed biomarkers for predicting conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. So even if the blood test looks okay, a better indicator of disease progression is the ability to think straight.
Bottom Line on Alzheimer’s Prevention:
- Enjoy your daily Happy Hour but don’t go overboard
- Maintain a normal weight
- Don’t develop diabetes, but if you do, keep it under control
- If an older adult seems confused by normal tasks of daily living, it’s time for a physician’s visit, regardless of what the blood test says
About the author: Diana Tucker’s “real” job is a freelance analyst/writer for several investor newsletters that serve the medical industry. Her “other” job consists of entertaining family and girlfriends with the latest health care gossip; such as endorsing a glass of wine a day is good for you.