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More Than Two Daily Drinks Speeds Memory Loss in Middle-aged Men

Update Date: Jan 16, 2014 12:24 AM EST
Children who were exposed to alcohol in the womb had slower brain activation during cognitive tasks in comparison to children who were not exposed. (Photo : Flickr/Cambridge Brewing Co.)

Drinking more than two and a half drinks per day may accelerate memory loss by up to six years in middle-aged men.

While having more than 36 grams of alcohol speeds memory loss, researchers found no differences in memory and executive function in men who do not drink, former drinkers, and light or moderate drinkers.

Researchers explain that executive function involves attention and reasoning skills in achieving a goal.

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"Much of the research evidence about drinking and a relationship to memory and executive function is based on older populations," study author Séverine Sabia, PhD, of the University College London in the United Kingdom, said in a news release. "Our study focused on middle-aged participants and suggests that heavy drinking is associated with faster decline in all areas of cognitive function in men."

Researchers assessed the drinking habits of 5,054 men and 2,099 women over 10 years. The average participant took their first memory tests at the age of 56. Participants then repeated the test twice over the next 10 years.

While there were no differences in memory and executive function decline between men who did not drink and those who were light or moderate drinkers, researchers found that executive function declines between one one-and-a-half to six years faster in heavy drinkers.

The findings are published in the journal Neurology.



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