Drinking Alcohol and Mental Functioning

Older people who drink in moderation generally suffer less mental decline than do abstainers, another study finds.

Over a thousand persons age 65 and older in Pennsylvania were studied over a period of seven years. Their mental functioning was measured at the beginning of the study and then periodically every two years thereafter. The study took into consideration such factors as age, sex, education, depression, smoking, general mental status.

Overall, light and moderate drinkers experienced less mental decline than did non-drinkers. These findings are consistent with other research.

Alcohol might lead to better mental function by improving cardiovascular health, in turn leading to better blood circulation in the brain. It might also have a beneficial effect on the neurotransmitters or chemical messengers in the brain.

The study adds to the growing evidence that drinking in moderation helps reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It was funded with grants from the National Institute on Aging and published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.



  • Ganguli, M., et al. Alcohol consumption and cognitive function in late life: A longitudinal community study. Neurology, 2005, 65, 1210-12-17.

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Filed Under: Brain

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