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Glass of wine a day may delay dementia

One alcoholic drink a day may slow the onset of dementia in older people suffering mild memory loss, a study has shown.

Researchers evaluated alcohol consumption and the incidence of mild cognitive impairment in 1,445 people aged 65 to 84. The 121 with mild memory problems were then followed for three-and-a-half years. The study found that those who had up to one drink of alcohol a day, mostly wine, developed dementia at an 85 per cent slower rate than people with mild memory loss who never drank alcohol.

Study authors Dr Vincenzo Solfrizzi and Dr Francesco Panza, from the University of Bari in Italy, said, ‘The mechanism responsible for why low alcohol consumption appears to protect against the progression to dementia isn’t known. However, it is possible that the arrangement of blood vessels in the brain may play a role in why alcohol consumption appears to protect against dementia. This would support other observations that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the brain from stroke and vascular dementia.’

The study, however, didn’t find any association between consuming more than one drink a day and a greater slowing in the progression to dementia.

The research, which was published in the journal Neurology, was supported by the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging and by AFORIGE, an Italian association for aging research.