LONDON, England / The Daily Mail / Health / May 23, 2011
Elderly people who continue to enjoy a drink are less likely to develop dementia, according to a new study.
Scientists found pensioners aged 75 or over who enjoy a daily pint or glass of wine are helping to stave off senility.
They found those who drink a moderate amount of alcohol are 30 per cent less likely to develop dementia and 40 per cent less likely to suffer Alzheimer's than those who are teetotal.
The team from the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, studied more than 3,000 people aged 75 or over attending GPs, who were free of dementia. They were then checked 18 months and three years later.
Professor Siegfried Weyerer said: 'Of 3,202 subjects free of dementia at baseline, 217 subjects met criteria for dementia during follow-up.
'Subjects consuming alcohol had approximately 30 per cent less overall dementia and 40 per cent less Alzheimer dementia than did non-drinking subjects.
'No significant differences were seen according to the type of alcoholic beverage consumed.
'Overall, these results are similar to several previous studies in the very elderly and suggest that moderate drinking is associated with less dementia, even among individuals aged 75 and older.'
In the last 31 years, the association between moderate alcohol intake and cognitive function has been investigated in 71 studies comprising 153,856 men and women from various populations with various drinking patterns.
Most studies showed an association between light to moderate alcohol consumption and better cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia, including vascular dementia and Alzheimer dementia.
'Unique in our study,' Professor Weyerer told Medscape Medical News, 'is that this result was also found among a large population where the mean age was, at 80.2 years, much higher than that in previous studies.'
Commenting on the results Doctor Harvey Finkel, of Boston University Medical Centre, said: 'The badge of age is not a warning label of fragility.
'While, I believe, one should not start to drink just because one has attained seniority, neither must one stop!
'Elderly folks handle alcohol with more responsibility than do the young, and they may derive greater health benefits from moderate drinking. Age is not a reason for abstinence.'
The results were published online in Age And Ageing.
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