A glass of wine can double memory loss risk
Drinking just one or two glasses of wine a day may double the risk of severe memory loss in old age, according to researchers.
Scientists from Exeter University have found that people with a history of alcohol use disorder, which can include those drinking within recommended limits, are twice as likely to have severe memory problems in subsequent years.
They warn that sticking to recommended limits – one or two units per day for women and three to four for men – may hide the fact that some people have a drink problem that will damage their long-term health.
The findings come after a survey showed that almost one in five over-65s drinks alcohol at home every day compared with just over one in 10 people aged 18 to 24.
In 1992, researchers questioned 6,542 adults aged between 51 and 61 about their drinking habits.
Participants then sat annual cognitive tests between 2006 and 2010 during which time 90 experienced severe thinking impairment and 74 experienced severe memory impairment.
Participants were asked three questions: Have people annoyed you by criticising your drinking?
Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
Those who answered yes to at least one question were classified as having "alcohol use disorder" and twice as likely to have developed problems with memory capacity.
The study showed that anyone who consumed more than one drink per day at the beginning of the study was more likely to answer yes to at least one question later.
Dr Ian Lang, the study's lead author, said: "Using a purely numerical measure of alcohol units for the recommended limits might be ignoring that people can drink at that level and still experience problems." (© Daily Telegraph, London)