ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Majority of College Students Report Backpack-Related Pain
CANCER
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
CAREGIVING
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous to Your Health
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
EYE CARE, VISION
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
FITNESS
Seniors Who Exercise Help Their Health
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Kids More Apt to Smoke If Mom Did While Pregnant
Toxins May Form When Skin, Indoor Ozone Meet
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Countdown to Hair Loss
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
SENIORS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Add your Article

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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