Moderate drinking may improve cognitive health for some white middle-aged or older adults, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers analyzed data on nearly 20,000 participants from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study, a panel that surveys Americans on a variety of health issues. Study participants were predominantly white, female and a mean age of 62. Those who said they drank low to moderate amounts of alcohol posted higher cognition scores for mental status.
Those associations appeared stronger for white participants than for Black participants.
Cognitive functioning was measured by assessing total word recall, mental status, and vocabulary.
Women with 8 or more drinks per week or men with 15 or more drinks per week were categorized as heavy drinkers; otherwise, current drinkers were defined as low to moderate drinkers.
“There is now a lot of observational evidence showing that light to moderate alcohol drinking is associated with better cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia compared with alcohol abstaining,” said Kaarin Anstey, a director of the NHMRC Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration in Australia who was not involved in the study.
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