One or two drinks can protect from mental illness

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Drinking can lessen the chances of dementia, especially in older people, stated two new reviews.

The scientists are of the opinion that people who drink socially have less chances of suffering from mental issues, with a 23 per cent reduction in risk.

US researchers claimed that middle-aged and older adults who drink moderate amounts – around one to two drinks a day – remain protected against suffering Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Wine was found to be more beneficial than beer, and there was no difference in the effects for men and women.

But heavy drinking – defined as more than three to five drinks a day – was linked to dementia, although the finding was not statistically significant.

Researcher Professor Edward Neafsey said ‘We don’t recommend non-drinkers start drinking. But moderate drinking – if it is truly moderate – can be beneficial.’

It is unknown why moderate drinking can have a beneficial effect, but the well-known benefits of alcohol on the heart may result in better blood flow in the brain and mental functioning.

Another explanation is ‘sick quitters’, which means that the comparison group of non-drinkers who do not get mental protection also contains heavy drinkers who quit after damaging their brain cells.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, said small amounts of alcohol may make brain cells more ‘fit’.

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