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Study: Moderate Alcohol Consumption Could Prolong Life of Alzheimer’s Patients

FILE - Wine bottles of Domaine de Bargylus are displayed in Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 3, 2014.

Moderate consumption of alcohol may reduce the mortality rates for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, according to a new study.

Writing in the journal BMJ Open, researchers from the Danish Alzheimer’s Intervention Study found that early stage Alzheimer's patients who drank up to three units of alcohol a day lowered their risk of death by 77 percent, compared to those who had one unit or less.

One glass of wine contains 2.3 units, as does a pint of beer. A shot of a spirit would be one unit.

Among the patients studied, 17 percent had 2 to 3 drinks daily. Seventy one percent were occasional drinkers. Eight percent did not drink. The study consisted of 321 patients.

The daily drinkers were more likely to be living three years longer than the occasional drinker.

No significant difference

There was no significant difference between non-drinking patients and those who had more than three drinks a day.

The research notes one caveat that needs further study is the possibility that other factors were at work, such as a larger social network for those who consume alcohol.

Other studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can lower the risk of strokes and heart disease in healthy individuals, but alcohol is known to kill brain cells that could exacerbate the neurodegenerative processes of Alzheimer’s.

"However, we cannot solely, on the basis of this study, either encourage or advise against moderate alcohol consumption in [these] patients," said a spokesperson for the Danish Alzheimer's Intervention Study.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation --“up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.