A daily cocktail may help the mind as well as the heart. Reporting in the New England Journalof Medicine (January 20, 2005), researchers discovered that women over 70 who saidthey had 1 alcoholic drink each day were less likely to show signs of mental decline 2 yearslater, compared with nondrinkers. Earlier studies have indicated that light drinking may lowerthe risk of dementia.
To investigate alcohol's effects on the brain, the researchers gave 11,102 women between70 and 81 memory tests. The women were given a follow-up test 2 years later. The testsrequired the participants to repeat lists of random words, a series of digits, and stories. Theparticipants also reported how much they drank. The results of the study showed that womenwho had 1 drink a day (equivalent to about 2 drinks in men) scored higher on the mental tests,compared with nondrinkers. Light drinkers had a very low risk of mental impairment, and wereless likely to show a major cognitive decline than nondrinkers.