Isn't alcohol wonderful? Not only does it make you clever (this has been proven more than once), not only is it good for your heart, but now research has revealed that boozing will also stave off the onset of senile dementia.
Seriously: German boffins led by Professur Doktor Steffi G Riedel-Heller of Leipzig uni have just published a paper which examined the cases of 3,202 elderly (75 or older) people living in Germany over the course of three years.
During those three years, 301 of the subjects died and 217 developed dementia (111 of these suffering from Alzheimer's disease, the others from different kinds of dementia).
According to the researchers:
Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed that alcohol consumption was significantly associated with a lower incidence of overall dementia and Alzheimer dementia.
Disappointingly perhaps, there's the usual caveat attached that only moderate alcohol consumption helps to stave off the madness: "long-term alcohol abuse is detrimental to memory function and can cause neuro-degenerative disease", we're told by the scientists. (Though it can't be shown from this study, as only a handful of the German wrinklies "fulfilled the criteria of harmful drinking".)
Riedel-Heller and her colleagues add that their research among the over-75s tallies with previous studies examining younger age groups. They thought it was particularly important to see whether the protective effects of booze continued into the later years.
Needless to say, the British government has yet to respond to the study: indications are that the present swingeing levels of tax on alcohol in the UK will remain or even be increased, preventing old folk on limited incomes from obtaining the booze they need to retain their sanity.
The study paper, Current alcohol consumption and its relationship to incident dementia: results from a three-year follow-up study among primary care attenders aged 75 years and older – published in the journal Age and Ageing – can be read here in full courtesy of the Oxford University Press. ®