A study reported at the annual Congress of Epidemiology in Toronto found moderate consumption of alcohol to be associated with superior mental function among older women compared to abstainers.
Dr. Meir Stampfer and colleagues at Harvard School of Public Health interviewed over 9,000 women aged 70 to 79 between 1995 and 1999. The women's mental function was assessed with seven different tests. Information about alcohol consumption had been collected at the beginning of the study in 1980 and was updated through 1994.
After adjusting for other factors that might affect mental function, the researchers found that the women who drank in moderation performed significantly beter on five of seven tests. They also performed significantly better on a global score that combined all seven tests.
Dr. Stampfer said that the affect of moderate alcohol consumption on congnitive functioning was equivalent of being one to two years younger.