I just read a sobering (pun intended!) article in the June 2020 UC Berkeley Health and Wellness Alerts about how alcohol affects our memory. The key takeaway? As you might have guessed, moderation is the key.
Alcohol’s effects on memory depend on the amount consumed. Heavy drinking, especially binge drinking, takes a toll on memory function. In a study published in Epidemiology, midlife binge drinking more than tripled the risk of developing dementia in later life. If you’re wondering what defines “binge drinking,” it’s “consuming more than five bottles of beer or one bottle of wine on one occasion at least monthly.”
The risk of dementia was more than ten times higher among drinkers who had passed out at least twice during a 12 month period.
The article goes on to say that mild to moderate drinking, in contrast, may have a protective effect. If there is protection, the mechanisms by which it could help are still not understood.
Experts recommend that men consume no more than two drinks a day and women, no more than one drink per day. (One drink equals 12 oz. of regular beer, about 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of 80 proof distilled liquor. Not much!)
People age 65 and over should drink less than these amounts.
Women who have an elevated risk of breast cancer should talk to their doctor about drinking alcohol, because evidence suggests that as little as one drink a day can boost breast cancer risk.
Research is still ongoing about how the type of alcohol (wine, beer, or liquor) affect dementia.
Despite the possible cognitive benefits of moderate alcohol consumptions, nondrinkers should not start drinking (even moderately) now because of the risks associated with excessive drinking, including automobile accidents and alcoholism.
While many of us (myself included !) enjoy our evening libation, moderation is the key to reducing the risk of dementia.
Cheers! (In moderation!)