CAN HAVING A DRINK HELP YOU THINK?
Over the years there have been many arguments made for the varying health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. Now there’s another bonus: better cognitive thinking. Though is may seem illogical, a large prospective study of 5O33 men and women in the Tromsø Study in northern Norway has reported that moderate wine consumption is independently associated with better performance on cognitive tests. The participants (with an average age of 58 and no history of stroke) were followed over seven years during which they were given a range of cognitive function tests. Among women, there was a lower risk of a poor testing score for those who consumed wine at least four or more times over two weeks in comparison with those who drink less than one time during this period. The expected associations between other risk factors for poor cognitive functioning were seen, for example: lower testing scores among people who were older, less educated, smokers, and those with depression, diabetes or hypertension. The authors stated: “A positive effect of wine . . . could also be due to confounders such as socio-economic status and more favorable dietary and other lifestyle habits.”
The authors also reported that not drinking was associated with significantly lower cognitive performance in women. It was noted that in any observational study there is the possibility of other lifestyle habits affecting cognitive function, and the present study was not able to adjust for certain ones (such as diet, income or profession) but did adjust for age, education, weight, depression, and cardiovascular disease as its major risk factors. The results of this study support findings from previous research on the topic: In the last three decades, the association between moderate alcohol intake and cognitive function has been investigated in 68 studies comprising 145,3O8 men and women from various populations with various drinking patterns. Most studies show an association between light to moderate alcohol consumption and better cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia, including both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Such effects could relate to the presence in wine of a number of polyphenols (antioxidants) and other micro elements that may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline with ageing. Mechanisms that have been suggested for alcohol itself being protective against cognitive decline include effects on atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), coagulation (thickening of the blood and clotting) and reducing inflammation (of artery walls, improving blood flow). Have a drink and bring on the Sudoku!