ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
CANCER
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return
CAREGIVING
Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
For Dialysis Patients, More Pills = Lower Quality of Life
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Just Say No to Nuts During Pregnancy
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
EYE CARE, VISION
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
FITNESS
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Drink Away Dementia?
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
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Drink Away Dementia?

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- Moderate drinking can lower the risk of dementia in older people, new research shows.

"Amongst cognitively normal adults, one to two alcoholic drinks a day is associated with a 37 percent decreased risk of dementia over six years," said senior study author Dr. Kaycee Sink, an assistant professor of medicine in geriatrics at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, N.C.

But among those in the study who had mild cognitive impairment to start with, drinking moderately had no effect. And heavier drinking -- two or more a day -- nearly doubled their risk of developing dementia during the six-year follow-up.

Sink presented her findings Thursday at the American Geriatrics Society annual meeting, in Chicago.

Sink, along with study author Dr. Deanna Mangieri, a clinical geriatric fellow at Wake Forest University, and their colleagues looked at 3,069 men and women, average age 79, and followed them for six years.

At the study start, 2,587 were evaluated as cognitively normal; 482 had mild cognitive impairment, which can progress to dementia.

The researchers asked about alcohol intake, smoking, depression, social activity and other factors, and tested the participants' cognitive functioning at the end of the study.

About 38 percent of the participants had one to seven drinks a week, while about 9 percent had eight to 14 drinks a week.

The bottom line, according to Sink: "If you are cognitively normal, there is no reason you should avoid light to moderate use of alcohol, and it may be beneficial. But if you have memory problems, we would probably say any amount of alcohol may be hazardous for your cognitive functioning. If you already have some memory problems, drinking is not going to help prevent progression to dementia, and may accelerate your progression."

Exactly why and how alcohol seems to help preserve normal cognitive functioning isn't clear, experts say. It may increase the release of a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which helps brain cells communicate with each other.

The new results conflict with those from an earlier study, reported in 2007 in the journal Neurology, that found people with mild cognitive impairment might slow their mental decline with up to one drink a day.

The first finding in the new study -- the 37 percent reduction in dementia among cognitively healthy moderate drinkers -- "is a very substantial reduction," said Dr. Denis Evans, Jesmer Professor of Internal Medicine at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging at Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago.

"This is consistent with other studies," he said.

As for the finding that those mildly impaired get no benefit or, if they drink more than moderately, increase their risk of dementia? There may not have been enough participants to definitively find a link, Evans said.

And, Evans added, what looks like a healthy effect of alcohol among those who are cognitively normal and drink may actually be due to something else. "Is it really the effect of the alcohol or the difference between people who drink and those who don't?'' he asked.

For instance, he said, older adults who drink alcohol moderately may be in better physical and mental shape. The healthy cognitive function that persists may be due to other lifestyle habits.

And, Evans added, "Alcohol consumption is something to be cautious about even though it seems to have some beneficial effects."

More information

To learn more about the warning signs of Alzheimer's disease, visit the Alzheimer's Association.



SOURCES: Kaycee Sink, M.D., assistant professor, medicine in geriatrics, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Denis Evans, M.D., Jesmer Professor of Internal Medicine, Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; April 30, 2009, presentation, American Geriatrics Society annual meeting, Chicago

Last Updated: May 01, 2009

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