Middle-aged adults face a wide variety of daily challenges … and some find a good release at the end of the day, be it in a glass of wine or a frosty mug of ale. Drinking much beyond that, however, can open up a Pandora’s Box of issues, such as obesity and liver damage. But new research shows that some of these issues might not be so obvious.
An investigation into the long-term effects of alcohol use was recently reported in the journal Neurology. Researchers analyzed the data from about 5,000 men and 2,000 women, all middle-aged. Over the course of 10 years, the participants were queried three times about their individual alcohol consumption and were given memory tests each time. These tests evaluated recall, concentration and reasoning skills needed in achieving goals.
For women drinkers, the findings were not clear-cut. However for men, the analysis was more substantial. The results showed that light to moderate drinking, which would include two beers a day, showed no impairment in memory. But for men who consumed more than two drinks of wine, beer or hard liquor per day, memory loss ranged anywhere from one-and-a-half years to six full years.
Although the study did not look into the reasons why this might have occurred, the researchers did suggest that considerable alcohol intake is linked with a higher danger of vascular illnesses, which, in turn, may add to the threat of cognitive impairment.
Experts say if you are concerned about the amount of alcohol you consume, talk with your primary care doctor to help assess if there may be any risks. It may help to keep a written record for a few weeks, noting the type, amount and frequency of alcohol consumed. The study revealed no issues for those who only consume one or two drinks per day, so seeing your actual consumption tracked over time may bring you peace of mind.