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Glass of wine a day 'fights off dementia'
Last Updated: 1:21am BST
One alcoholic drink a day can delay the onset of dementia in older people with mild memory loss, a study has shown.
Researchers evaluated alcohol consumption and the incidence of minor cognitive impairment in 1,445 people aged 65 to 84.
The 121 who had signs of early mental problems were then monitored for three-and-a-half years. Those who had up to one glass of alcoholic drink a day, mostly wine, developed dementia at a rate 85 per cent slower than volunteers who abstained.
The findings by Dr Vincenzo Solfrizzi and Dr Francesco Panza, of the University of Bari in Italy, are published today in the journal Neurology.
The authors report: "While many studies have assessed alcohol consumption and cognitive function in the elderly, this is the first study to look at how alcohol consumption affects the rate of progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia.
"The mechanism responsible for why low alcohol consumption appears to protect against the progression to dementia isn't known. However, it is possible that the arrangement of blood vessels in the brain may play a role in why alcohol consumption appears to protect against dementia.
"This would support other observations that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the brain from stroke and vascular dementia."
Consuming more than one drink a day was not associated with any greater delay in the progression to dementia.