Moderate alcohol consumption protects older persons from the development of cognitive impairment, according to a study led by Dr. Giuseppe Zuccala of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, Italy.
Researchers examined the alcohol consumption and mental abilities of 15,807 Italian men and women 65 years of age and older. Among the drinkers only 19% showed signs of mental impairment compared to 29% of the abstainers.
The relationship continued even when other factors in cognitive impairment, such as age, education, and health problems were considered.
However, the abuse of alcohol was associated with an increased rate of mental decline.