Drinking Alcohol After 60 Can Have Positive Memory Benefits, Study Says

Drinking alcohol gets a bad reputation if done in large quantities with little discretion. For that reason, many people will advise you against it.

But if you’re at the age of 60 or older, it can have some very positive benefits to your memory and mental health — in light to moderate quantities, anyway.

A new study revealed this good news to all of you wine and beer lovers out there, noting that “among people ages 60 and older who don’t have dementia, light to moderate alcohol consumption can produce a higher episodic memory — the ability to recall memories of events,” reports Youth Health.

Not reputable enough of a source? Well, the study actually emanates from researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, University of Kentucky, and University of Maryland. They’ve published their full findings in the scholarly American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias.

“Moderate” drinking, per the terms of the study, was defined as “a maximum of two alcoholic beverages a day.”

Drinking alcohol in these small amounts was linked to a larger volume in the hippocampus, the brain region critical to episodic memory.

The researchers used data from 660 patients in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort, and surveyed the participants “on their alcohol consumption and demographics, a battery of neuropsychological assessments, the presence or absence of the genetic Alzheimer’s disease risk factor APOE e4 and MRIs of their brains,” the study notes.

Alcohol consumption among the middle-aged did not result in cognitive functioning and regional brain volumes during late life, said Brian Downer, the lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in the UTMB Sealy Center on Aging.

“This may be due to the fact that adults who are able to continue consuming alcohol into old age are healthier, and therefore have higher cognition and larger regional brain volumes, than people who had to decrease their alcohol consumption due to unfavorable health outcomes,” Downer said.

Bad news, though: five or more alcoholic beverages at a time can have a negative impact.

If you’re looking for other ways that moderate drinking of alcohol can help, then another study conducted in 2013 shows that the same relative amounts can ward off the ill effects of fibromyalgia.

FM Patients who drink report less pain and a better quality of life than patients who don’t drink. That’s taken from a study of 946 patients published in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]