We all have different ideas about what constitutes “light” drinking, “moderate” and “heavy” drinking but a new study has set the bar pretty low.
 The study appeared in the journal Neurology and found that men in mid-life (average age = 56) who drank the equivalent of 2.5 drinks per day lose their cognitive abilities faster as they age than those who drink less. The study followed 5,054 men and 2,099 women between the ages of 44-69. The people were first assessed for drinking and cognitive abilities in 1997–1999. Cognitive tests were repeated in 2002–2004 and 2007–2009. The participants were given 4 tests assessing memory and executive function. A global cognitive score summarized performances across these tests
Good news: In men, there were no differences in cognitive decline among alcohol abstainers, quitters, and light or moderate alcohol drinkers (fewer than 3 drinks daily). In women, there was little evidence of any increased decline in cognitive health from alcohol consumption.

Conclusions: Excessive alcohol consumption in men (≥36 g/d) was associated with faster cognitive decline compared with light to moderate alcohol consumption.
Source: Sabia et al, 2014. Alcohol consumption and cognitive decline in early old age. Published online before print January 15, 2014.
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