A 30-year study by the University of California, San Diego has concluded that over-65s who indulge in up to three alcoholic drinks a day can look forward to a happy and healthy retirement.
In fact, they said, moderate to heavy drinkers are more likely to live to the age of 85 without dementia or other cognitive impairments than nondrinkers. The study, which tracked more than 1,000 middle-class white men and women in California, builds on a swell of recent research linking alcohol intake to long.
However, the researchers warned excessive alcohol intake is known to cause alcohol-related dementia.
‘This study is unique because we considered men and women’s cognitive health at late age and found that alcohol consumption is not only associated with reduced mortality, but with greater chances of remaining cognitively healthy into older age,’ said lead author Dr Linda McEvoy.
The data derive from a relatively homogenous population in one specific region of San Diego County: Rancho Bernardo, a white-collar, middle-to-upper-middle-class suburb.
The researchers tracked 1,344 older adults, including 728 women and 616 men, from 1984 to 2013. Ninety-nine percent of them were white with at least some college education.
Cognitive health was assessed every four years over the course of the 29-year study, using a standard dementia screening test known as the Mini Mental State Examination.
The researchers found that people who drank ‘moderate to heavy’ amounts of alcohol five to seven days a week were doubly likely to be cognitively healthy than non-drinkers. The study defined moderate, heavy and excessive drinking using gender and age-specific guidelines from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.