There's been a lot of talk about red wine in the past few years. More doctors are saying drinking red wine in moderation – usually a glass a day – is good for your heart. But what about your brain? VOA's Rose Hoban reports.
Carol Ann Paul was curious to know the answer to that question. While she was
doing research at the Boston University School of Public Health, she looked at
data from the Framingham study – a large, long-term study that is based in the
town of Framingham, Massachusetts. Researchers have been collecting information
about the residents of Framingham for several decades.
of the things they did was give this normal population MRIs (magnetic resonance
imaging studies), Paul says. They had 1,839 MRIs from normal subjects, which
they used to measure brain volumes.
in the Framingham study have filled out detailed questionnaires about their
habits, activities and diet. They have answered many questions about their
alcohol consumption. Paul took that data and assigned people into one of five
groups: abstainers; people who drank no alcohol; former drinkers; low, moderate
and high drinkers.
is classified as one to seven drinks per week, about one each day. Moderate is
eight to 14 drinks, and high is more than 14, Paul explains.
took data about red wine consumption from these questionnaires and matched it
with the results of those brain scans. She found that the more people drank,
the more quickly their brains shrank with age.
Normal aging is .2 percent per year or 2 percent per decade, she says. The changes between normal and the abstainers, abstainers and all of the different categories was .25 percent per group.
says that for each extra regular drink per day, it's equivalent to one to two
years of normal aging.
says the next question she wants to explore is whether people whose brains
shrink faster have faster cognitive decline. She says she'll be working on that
in the upcoming year. In the meantime, she says she'll probably continue to
enjoy red wine in moderation.