Drinking in moderation may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a new report from Loyola University of Chicago's School of Medicine.
The researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing 44 studies about moderate alcohol intake and its effect on the heart and the brain.
Risk factors for cognitive decline, Alzheimer's and dementia in adults over 60 were compared in these studies, 19 of which were long-term studies lasting several years.
Overall, 54 percent of the risk factors were lowest in people who drank alcohol in moderation (one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men).
One 5-ounce glass of wine, one 12-ounce can of bottle of beer or one 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor is equal to one drink.
There's a fine line between drinking in moderation and heavy drinking which is defined as anything more than one drink a day for women, or more than two drinks a day for men.
Heavy drinking over a long period of time is known to cause memory loss and kill brain cells.
"We're not about to say people who don't drink should start drinking," says this study's author, "We're just starting to uncover these fairly beneficial events of a low amount of alcohol on brain cells."
In Canada, Alzheimer's-related dementia affects more than 71,000 adults under the age of 65 according to the Alzheimer's Society of Canada.
This study will be in the February 2009 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
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