Heavy drinking in middle-aged men may be associated with accelerated memory loss later on in life

Saturday, January 18, 2014 by: Josh Anderson
Tags: heavy drinking, memory loss, middle-aged men

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(NaturalNews) In a recent Neurology publication, researchers illustrated that men who drink heavily during their middle ages have earlier onset of memory loss by up to six years. Heavy drinking for this study was considered to be 2.5 alcoholic beverages per day (36 g of alcohol). While heavy drinking was shown to significantly reduce the memory and cognitive capacity of men later on in life, men who did not drink, were former drinkers or those who were light to moderate drinkers (less than two drinks a day [20 g]) did not have a significant decline in memory.

The study looked at 5,054 middle-aged (34-59 years old) male participants over 10 years, assessing their drinking habits every four months. Once the participants reached an average age of 56, cognitive tests were conducted twice over the next 10 years to determine when cognitive functions started to decrease. This faster decline in memory and other cognitive functions that was associated with heavy drinking during middle age occurred 1.5 to 6 years earlier than non- to moderate alcohol consumers.

In some instances it has been shown that the consumption of alcohol can actually be good for the brain and improve your memory. For instance, a New England Journal of Medicine study indicated that older women who consumed one alcoholic drink per day had a 20 percent less likely chance of dementia or other memory loss-associated problems. Likewise, a Norwegian study indicated that those who drink four or more glasses of wine every two weeks have better cognitive abilities then those who drink less or abstain from alcohol altogether.

While light to moderate consumption of alcohol can be good for your cognitive abilities, heavy consumption has been found to have adverse mental effects mostly associated with short-term memory loss (alcohol-induced "black outs"). An American Journal of Public Health publication demonstrated that the cognitive effects of heavy alcohol consumption can last for over 24 hours.

The short-term cognition-altering effects of alcohol are well known, while the long-term cognitive implications are mostly studied on the older population. By studying middle-aged individuals over a long duration, the Neurology study helps illustrate the effects of heavy drinking on memory later on in life. For middle-aged men (and most likely other groups), the sustained heavy consumption of alcohol can make them more prone to an earlier decrease in cognitive functions as they age.

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