Moderate alcohol consumption could reduce risk of death for people in early stages of dementia, says new study

Moderate consumption of alcohol could reduce the risk of death for people in the early stages of dementia, according to a new study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The study showed that drinking two or three units of alcohol a day was associated with a 77 percent decrease of death from dementia, when compared to patients who drank one or less units per day.

The research authors warn that the study does not form the basis to either advice for or against alcohol consumption but they call for more studies into the effect of alcohol on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous studies have shown that moderate drinking has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. The researchers wanted to know if the same link existed for people with dementia.

The researchers say that this is the first study to show a link between alcohol and mortality in people who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

A previous study done in China and published in February in the British Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that consuming moderate amounts of beer could slow the development of forms of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

That study found that Xanthohumol, a flavonoid present only in hops, an ingredient used in making beer, has been identified by researchers from Lanzhou University in China as a ‘potential candidate for the prevention of neuron-degenerative disorders.’

In traditional Chinese medicine, hops have been used to treat all types of ailments for centuries.

The current study took data from 321 participants in the Danish Alzheimer’s intervention study, who had early stage Alzheimer’s and whose alcohol consumption was recorded by care-givers. The study found that moderate drinking of two to three units of alcohol a day was linked to a 77 percent lower risk of death from the disease when compared to those who drank one or less alcohol units per day.

However, the study showed there was no difference in those patients who drank no alcohol or more than three units per day, when compared to those who drank one or fewer units.

The researchers concluded that people who drink in moderation may have a better social network – a factor which has been associated to improved quality and possible length of life.

The researchers say that the primary “aim of this study was to investigate whether the positive association between moderate alcohol intake and mortality shown in population-based studies on healthy subjects can be transferred to patients with mild Alzheimer’s.

The study did not look at what types of alcohol were consumed and so was not able to say whether there was difference between various forms of alcohol such as wine, beer or spirits.

“Regarding the importance of alcohol type when considering the risk of developing dementia, earlier studies have not been in agreement,” said the authors.

“Some have argued that only consumption of wine was associated with a lower risk of dementia, while other studies observed no difference between alcohol types.”

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