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Alcohol accelerates memory loss

Heavy alcohol consumption can result in men suffering memory loss many years sooner than they otherwise might. This is among the conclusions reached by a British study of over 7,000 people. Over ten years, the male and female participants regularly recorded their alcohol consumption. Participants, whose ages ranged from 44 to 69, also underwent cognitive tests that were repeated in the following decade. The scientists designed the tests to check not only memory, but also “executive functions”. These are the mental abilities that control people’s thinking and behaviour in areas such as setting goals, planning and awareness.

Men tend to drink a lot more

It’s well-known that men and women generally drink differently. The study again confirmed this; the male participants drank far more than the women. And the results showed that men who drank on average more than 36 g of alcohol daily turned in a distinctly worse memory performance. The loss was equivalent to the effect of being six years older. The executive functions were also affected. The 36 g limit is exceeded after drinking three beers a day. Men who drank less than 20 g alcohol a day showed the same cognitive function as men who drank nothing at all. Women drank much less alcohol (the highest consumption on average was over 19 g a day) and showed far less memory loss. But for both men and women consumption of spirits is particularly damage for mental capacity.

Recommended daily limits

More studies will be needed to confirm these findings. Exactly what happens when alcohol affects your brain is not yet clear. The scientists suggest that the loss of memory may be the result of neurotoxic damage caused by excessive drinking. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) considers daily alcohol consumption of no more than 10 g for healthy women and 20 g for healthy men is acceptable. 10 g of alcohol is one drink, in other words, one glass of beer, wine or spirits.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de