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Alcohol Consumption May Slow Cognitive Decline

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Older adults with mild cognitive impairment experienced less decline in mental functioning if they consumed one alcoholic drink daily, new research finds.

HealthDay News reported May 21 that researchers tracked 121 people ages 65-84 who had mild cognitive impairment. They found that those who had a daily drink developed dementia at an 85-percent lower rate than nondrinkers. No benefits were experienced by those who had more or less than a drink a day.

Lead authors Vincenzo Solfrizzi and Francesco Panza said the study was the first to look at how alcohol consumption affects the progression of cognitive impairment to dementia. Solfrizzi said that alcohol may help maintain the health of the brain's blood vessels; other research shows that alcohol indirectly may help neurons communicate with each other.

On the other hand, experts note, daily drinkers may simply be in better physical or mental health to start with.

The research was published in the May 22, 2007 issue of the journal Neurology.

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