Wednesday 5 October 2022 10:22 PM Abstaining from alcohol might RAISE the risk of dementia, study finds trends now

Wednesday 5 October 2022 10:22 PM Abstaining from alcohol might RAISE the risk of dementia, study finds trends now
Wednesday 5 October 2022 10:22 PM Abstaining from alcohol might RAISE the risk of dementia, study finds trends now

Wednesday 5 October 2022 10:22 PM Abstaining from alcohol might RAISE the risk of dementia, study finds trends now

You'd be forgiven for assuming Sober October is a positive trend to get involved with for your health — and virtually every doctor would agree with you.

But a recent review of available studies indicated that abstaining from alcohol completely may actually raise the risk of dementia.

That research, published in he journal Addiction in August, has reignited a debate about whether a small amount of alcohol could actually be good for your health.

Many doctors wrote off the findings as incorrect or misleading. But they are not a total anomaly, with past studies also linking zero tolerance to higher levels of heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's.

What is undisputed is that consuming high levels of alcohol over a long period of time and binge drinking can lead to a slew of chronic conditions.

But some scientists believe that in small doses, it can provide just enough of a relaxing effect to counter stress - which can lead to inflammation and heart and artery damage.

The Mayo Clinic, for example, says the equivalent of one small glass of wine or two bottles of beer per day can be beneficial.

But Dr Robert Friedland, a professor of neurology and member of the American Neurological Association, told that there are for more studies showing how bad alcohol is.

He said the relative rare results should not be misinterpreted as a reason for someone to increase their alcohol consumption.

The debate comes just before millions will lock their liquor cabinet for 'Sober October' - a trend where many who regularly drink choose to abstain for a month.

So what does the science say when it comes to low amounts of alcohol? 

In the latest study, researchers at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, performed a meta-analysis on 15 studies analyzing the link between alcohol consumption and risk of developing dementia.

Over the course of the studies - which included data from 24,478 participants across the world - 2,124 developed dementia.

The researchers found that people who abstained from alcohol were more likely to be a part of that group than those that drank moderately.

A majority of the studies were concentrated in high income nations in Europe, the US and Australia. Data from Brazil and the Republic of Congo were included to represent middle and lower-income nations as well. 

The analysis did not establish a mechanism for why moderate drinking could potentially boost brain health - and did not adjust for other outside factors that could instead impact the results like diet, exercise habits and weight. 

But the idea that small amounts of alcohol on occasion can be good for one's health has emerged in research over the last two decades.

Alcohol interferes with the brain's ability to communicate with the rest of the body - which gives a person the intoxicated feeling. 

Abuse can permanently damage some communication pathways and cause cognitive damage as a result.

But in low doses the intoxicating feeling can provide temporary stress relief, act as a social lubricant and boost confidence.

A study published by a Dutch research team in 2002 found that one-to-three drinks per day could reduce dementia risk in people 55 and older.

Researchers at Erasmus Medical Centre, who published their findings in The Lancet, gathered data from nearly 8,000 people in the age cohort.

Participants that had moderate drinking habits were 42 per cent less likely to develop dementia within six years than their peers.

The Dutch team even found that what type of alcohol a person preferred - whether wine, beer or liquor - did not affect the results.

Alcohol is known to have many harmful affects on the body, as its presence in the blood stream can damage organs, prevent some crucial bodily functions form properly working. 

It can also damage a person's DNA, and as a result lead to genetic mutations that could cause cancer. 

Frequent alcohol use long-term has also been linked to high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and a weakened heart muscle. 

Yet, researchers from Columbia University found in a 2006 study that drinking each week slowed the rate of cognitive decline and boosted heart health in adults. 

Dubbed the 'Northern Manhattan Study' the research of 1,428 participants found that participants who either drank one drink a week, or two-or-more weekly, had lower rates of cognitive decline.

They also did not exhibit signs in the heart that indicate future cognitive decline. Other studies have also found positive correlation between moderate alcohol use and heart health. 

A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital, published in JAMA Network Open earlier this year, found that moderate drinkers had lower rates of heart disease than their abstaining peers.

Using data from the UK Biobank, they found that light drinkers were around 20 per cent less likely to suffer the condition - which is also the leading killer of Americans.

Like the brain health studies, the findings were observational and did not determine a reason why alcohol could be good for the heart.

Previous studies have also linked moderate alcohol use to stroke prevention.

A 1999 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that drinking each week could reduce risk of a brain hemorrhage by around 20 per cent.

The study included 22,000 men between the ages of 40 to 84, each of which had no history of stroke. 

The Brigham and Women's Hospital team even found that people who consume one

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