Your health and dementia in relation to alcohol

Published 11:52 am Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The protective effect of alcohol seems to be linked to what is referred to as mild to moderate drinking. But how much alcohol is okay, and how much is too much? The truth is that to date, no optimal level of alcohol consumption has been established. But most experts recommend that men consume no more than two drinks per day, and women no more than one drink per day. That equates to 12 oz. of regular beer, about 5 oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof distilled liquor.

One additional note for women who have an elevated risk of breast cancer, research has shown that as little as one drink a day can boost their breast cancer risk, it’s a very good idea to talk to your  doctors about drinking alcohol if you fall into that category.

So it appears that while not fully understood, moderate drinking has a protective effect believed to be due to the improved blood flow it causes to the brain and that may help prevent small “silent” strokes. Again, by contrast, consuming 14 or more drinks per week has been associated with an increased risk of dementia. Oh, and one more thing the research indicated is that being a nonsmoker seems to further enhance the protective aspects of alcohol, and lowered the risk of developing dementia.

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Research is still emerging on how the type of alcohol – beer, wine or liquor – affects dementia risk, but the fact that to date, consumption of alcohol in moderation seems to be a good for us, and may be helpful in keeping our brains healthy is, for many of us, wonderful news. In fact, I think that as I sit down to my glass of red wine this evening, I’ll drink to their findings.


Ron Kauffman is a consultant and expert on Issues of geriatrics and aging. He’s in private practice in Henderson and Polk Counties.

He is the author of “Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease,” available on and at the Polk County Senior Center. His podcasts can be heard weekly at Contact him at 828-696-9799 or by email at: