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A few drinks may help Alzheimer’s patients live longer

Allie Shah Tribune News Service

People with early Alzheimer’s disease have something new to toast to: raising their glasses moderately may actually help them live longer.

A new small study shows that having a few drinks a day is associated with a much lower risk of death for Alzheimer’s patients, compared with those who drink more, less or not at all.

The discovery came as a surprise to the University of Southern Denmark researchers who conducted the study, especially because alcohol can kill brain cells and Alzheimer’s is a brain disease.

And it’s well established that drinking too much alcohol puts you at a higher risk of developing dementia.

In the study, published Dec. 11 in the medical journal BMJ Open, scientists looked at the drinking habits of 321 people with early Alzheimer’s.

They found that drinking 2 to 3 units of alcohol each day was linked to a 77 percent lowered risk of death over a three-year period.

One possible explanation for the benefits of moderate drinking on survival rates for Alzheimer’s patients may lie in who their drinking buddies are. Perhaps, moderate drinkers have a richer social environment – which has been proven to help those with dementia, the study said.

“The results of our study point towards a potential, positive association of moderate alcohol consumption on mortality in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease,” the Denmark researchers wrote. “However, we cannot solely on the basis of this study neither encourage nor advise against moderate alcohol consumption in patients with Alzheimer’s.”

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