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Late-life binge drinking may risk cognitive decline: study

(Xinhua)

08:42, July 24, 2012

VANCOUVER, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Moderate to heavy alcohol use in late-life may increase risk of cognitive decline, according to two new studies presented to the Alzheimer's Association International Conference that concluded here Thursday.

According to one study, conducted by Tina Hoang and other researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found moderate drinkers in the late phase of the study were roughly 60 per cent more likely to develop cognitive impairment. The discovery was made after they followed more than 1,300 women aged 65 and older for 20 years.

They also found women who changed from non-drinking to drinking over the course of the study had a 200 per cent increased risk of cognitive impairment.

"These findings suggest that alcohol use in late-life may not be beneficial for cognitive function in older women," Hoang said, adding that clinicians should carefully assess their older patients for both how much they drink and any changes in patterns of alcohol use.

In the other study, Dr. Iain Lang and other researchers from University of Exeter, Britain, conducted a secondary analysis of data from 5,075 participants aged 65 and older in a U.S. study to assess the effects of binge drinking in older people on cognition and mood.

The researchers found participants reporting heavy episodic drinking twice per month or more were 147 per cent more likely to be in the group experiencing the highest decline in cognitive function, and were 149 per cent more likely to be in the group experiencing the highest amount of decline in memory.

"Policymakers and public health specialists should know that binge drinking is not just a problem among adolescents and younger adults," Lang said.

"We have to start thinking about older people when we are planning interventions to reduce binge drinking."

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