For seniors, light or moderate alcohol consumption (one or two drinks per day) would have a beneficial effect on the cognitive level.
The positive and negative health effects of alcohol are the subject of considerable controversy. Some experts believe that it should not be drunk at all, others claim that reasonable drinking is relatively neutral, and for minority the consumption of one or two drinks a day could have many benefits. However, what is clear:
- Those who do not drink should not start (there are too many uncertainties)
- Those who drink have every interest in limiting their consumption
An American team (University of Georgia) brings a new piece to the file. The researchers analyzed data on some 20,000 seniors followed over a very long period. Their alcohol consumption was assessed at periodic intervals, and they underwent cognitive tests every two years.
The result shows that compared to zero or too high consumption, light to moderate alcohol consumption (1 to 7 drinks per week for women, 1 to 14 drinks for men) is “significantly” associated with a favorable “cognitive trajectory”, with a lower rate of cognitive decline. This holds true for overall cognitive function, and for several parameters examined in more details, such as memory and language.
The authors add: “Finally, there is a U-shaped association between alcohol consumption and all areas of cognitive function, with an optimal dose of between 10 and 14 drinks per week”. The researchers, however, emphasize that this is an association, that the cause-and-effect relationship is not explored and that cognitive function only represents an aspect of health which alcohol can affect in other ways. In other words, other lifestyle elements may have influenced the results.
Thus, caution and great moderation is advised. The researchers also emphasize that these data do not justify non-drinkers to start drinking.