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Alcohol may delay dementia

Drinking a small amount of alcohol every day may prevent mild cognitive impairment from progressing towards dementia, research shows.

Experts studied the relationship between alcohol consumption and cognitive behaviour among 1,445 elderly participants of the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging.

Elderly people with mild cognitive problems who had up to one drink of alcohol a day developed dementia at an 85 percent slower rate than those who did not drink alcohol.

Study author Vincenzo Solfrizzi, from the University of Bari in Italy, says it is not clear what makes alcohol so protective.

But he suggests that, "the arrangement of blood vessels in the brain may play a role in why alcohol consumption appears to protect against dementia."

He adds: "This would support other observations that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the brain from stroke and vascular dementia."

Researchers failed to find any evidence that heavier drinking had a greater protective effect against dementia.

American Academy of Neurology