Over 65? Drink up!

I have always thought that alcohol, even in small amounts, is never beneficial to your health or your mind. I’ve been taught that alcohol has negative side effects, even in small uses, or pointless minimal effects that cause you to stumble over words, not feel as much, and cause your brain not to function at it’s full capacity. Therefore, I was surprised when I stumbled across an article explaining a study in which light consumption of alcohol is actually beneficial.

In a recent study, 660 patients were examined by the University of Texas Medical Branch that were part of the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort to examine the midlife and late life alcohol consumption cognitive functioning and regional brain volumes. The patients could not have a track record of dementia or alcohol abuse. Before the tests, each patient had a MRI and neuropsychological assessment to make sure there was no dementia or brain damage from alcohol, and then they were assessed through genetic testing for the alzheimer’s disease. Then the actual testing began to determine the link between the light alcohol consumption and memory, and results showed that alcohol consumption did not have an affect on executive function or overall mental ability. However, it did have an affect on episodic memory. A send study done on animals further showed that light alcohol consumption boosts the hippocampal volume region of the brain in elderly people by assisting the formation of new nerve cells.

In basic terms, this study showed the light consumption of alcohol by people ages 60+ helped them with their episodic memory, which is the ability to remember personalized experiences and events.

Another study, in which 7,460 women ages 65 and above that drank up to three alcoholic beverages per day scored significantly higher on concentration, memory, abstract reasoning, and language tests. The researchers eliminated third variables that could have altered the results such as educational level and income.

These findings support the previously mentioned study conclusions and are consistent with other studies that show drinking alcohol in small amounts or up to three drinks a day in both women and men over the ages of 60/65 reduces the risk of dementia and cognitive function. Because there are multiple studies, chance is reduced as an explanation for the correlation between alcohol consumption and memory, so there is a more concrete link between them. As it appears, there are some benefits to drinking alcohol after all.







4 thoughts on “Over 65? Drink up!

  1. Katherine Sharon Trimble

    I recently did a blog post very similar to yours! I read the article on the 660 patients from Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. I definitely agree that it is a reputable article, however it is a survey. Experiments that are double-blind are most accurate, and because it is a survey, people could have made up their answers. I would be really interested to see if researchers would be able to do more tests with this same group of people that has them actually consume alcohol.

  2. Whitney Paige Richter

    I’m not surprised by this, alcohol can have some benefits, especially wines. I saw on the news recently that drinking red wine can prolong your life, but I looked into and found it can do much more. Drinking one to two glasses of wine, red or white, can not only increase your life expectancy, but also makes you less prone to cardiovascular diseases, and reduces your risk for type two diabetes, dementia and cancer.

  3. Meghan Catherine Conklin

    On the topic of alcohol and health benefits, I wondered what the positive effects if any there were of drinking one glass of wine every night. Antioxidants in red wine named polyphenols may help to protect the lining of the blood vessels in your heart, protecting people against heart disease. However, there are of course negative effects of drinking too much of it!


  4. Elizabeth Ann Dixon

    That is very interesting because as you mentioned, I always believed that drinking was bad for you no matter what your age so finding out that it can actually help reduce chances of worse issues.

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