Drinking a small glass of wine a day can protect women against dementia, a new study has claimed.
Research by academics at the University of Glasgow suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may improve the function of older women's brains.
Doctors analysed the performance of more than 5,800 people aged between 70 to 82 in a range of memory and language tests.
A unit of alcohol is a 125ml glass of wine at about 8% alcohol by volume. Although the results among male drinkers and non-drinkers were similar, women who consumed between one and seven units of alcohol a week performed significantly better than those who seldom drank or were teetotal.
Current government guidelines recommend that women drink no more than two to three units per day and men no more than three to four.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, concludes that drinking one to seven units of alcohol a week may delay cognitive decline and the onset of dementia, a degenerative condition that affects memory, attention, language and problem-solving.
Scientists believe alcohol may stimulate the release of oestrogen in women, a hormone thought to protect the brain. However, the mechanism by which it is triggered is not fully understood.
"We were interested in exploring the effects of alcohol on memory, thinking and cognition," said David Stott, professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Glasgow.
"We found that modest amounts of alcohol in women seem to be associated with a delay in cognitive decline, such as speed of thought and how you use language and words. If these become serious, they can be signs of dementia. "
"This is not an endorsement to drink to excess--large amounts of alcohol will damage your brain--but the occasional tipple may do you some good."
2009-12-30 16:53 编辑：kuaileyingyu