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Mid-Life Boozing Speeds Up Brain Aging

One study finds that downing more than two alcoholic drinks a day may cause trouble with memory, attention and reasoning in men.

Medically reviewed in February 2021

Is it getting harder to remember the key points of that big meeting you had at the office last week? If so, maybe it's time to check your alcohol consumption. Research shows that midlife drinking speeds up aging of the brain.

Drinking dangers
In a British study published in the journal Neurology, researchers surveyed more than 7,500 middle-aged men and women several times about their alcohol use over a 10-year period. Then the researchers gave the participants three rounds of mental tests covering memory, attention and reasoning skills when the participants were between 55 and 80 years old. The results showed that men who drank about 2.5 or more drinks a day suffered faster declines in all these areas compared to men who drank less or not at all. In fact, the heavy drinkers started showed mental decline up to six years sooner than nondrinkers—some as early as age 55.

There was good news for light or moderate drinkers: In the study, enjoying up to two drinks per day didn’t appear to have any effect on thinking skills. And women who had one drink per day actually showed less cognitive decline than women who abstained from alcohol.

Stay middle of the road
You've heard the term, "Everything in moderation," right? It's okay to de-stress and enjoy a drink or two after a long day. But like anything else, there's more risk involved when you overdo it. So, if you're going to drink, make the choice to do it responsibly. And keep this in mind: There's increasing evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may come with certain health benefits. And those benefits may also improve your heart health, too. Raise a glass to that one!

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