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Such a mixed message

Comment
Reem Antoon


What do you make of the following statement?

‘People who abstain from alcohol in middle age may be at heightened risk of dementia later in life.’

Well the first thing on my mind is ‘oh boy, I don’t drink alcohol!’

Apparently, a long-term study of more than 9,000 people, which tracked the health of civil servants working in London, found that people who drank over the recommended limits for men and women and also those who have been teetotal in midlife were at an increased risk of the disease.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), followed participants who were aged between 35 and 55 when it began in the mid-1980s.

Abstinence in midlife was associated with a 45 per cent higher risk of dementia compared with people who consumed between one and 14 units of alcohol per week.

Long-term abstainers and those who reported a decrease in alcohol consumption also appeared to have an increased risk.

Alcohol consumption was measured during assessments between 1985 and 1993, when the participants had an average age of 50. They were followed up for an average of 23 years, with cases of dementia identified through hospital, mental health service and mortality records. A total of 397 cases of dementia were recorded.

Among excessive drinkers, defined as those who consumed more than 14 units per week, experts found a heightened risk of dementia that increased the more a person drank, noting that with every seven-unit-per-week increase there was a 17pc rise in dementia risk.

Another research in the US has found that moderate drinking is linked to a longer life. Really?!

Drinking about two glasses of wine or beer a day was linked to an 18pc drop in a person’s risk of early death, an even stronger effect than the life-preserving practice of exercise, according to the researchers.

Seriously? Better than exercising? Another thing I never do! I have no chance then!

The results came from the 90+ Study, a research project out of the University of California Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders that examines the habits of people who live to at least 90.

In 2015 a study of people with mild Alzheimer’s found that moderate drinkers were less likely to die during the study’s follow-up period than teetotalers.

And in 2017 it was found that light and moderate drinkers were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who never sipped.

On the flip side, some good news for me and my fellow ‘teetotalers’, there is a link between alcohol and cancer as well as overweight problems.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology has come out with a new warning, underscoring associations between drinking and at least seven types of cancer.

The relationship between alcohol and breast cancer has been particularly well-studied, with scientists theorising that alcohol may increase estrogen levels and therefore feed breast cancer.

Other research suggests that alcohol may disrupt DNA activity, potentially leading to cancers of the breast, colon, liver, mouth and oesophagus.

Also, alcoholic beverages are often quite high in calories. Regularly imbibing, then, can sneakily contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Those can come with their own set of health problems, ranging from heart disease to type 2 diabetes.

Longer life and no dementia, or well, just basically healthy happy life…which one do you reckon?

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