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Study: Binge drinking increases risk of cognitive decline

Moderate drinking and binge drinking among older people increase the risk for cognitive decline and memory loss, according to two studies.

Binge drinking studyEnlarge
Moderate drinking and binge drinking among older people increase the risk for cognitive decline and memory loss, according to two studies. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

Moderate drinking and binge drinking among older people increase the risk for cognitive decline and memory loss, according to two studies presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2012 in Vancouver, Canada.

According to one study, adults 65 and older who reported binge drinking at least twice a month were two and a half times more likely to suffer cognitive and memory declines that adults of a similar age who don't binge-drink, reported USA Today. The study defined binge drinking as four or more drinks on one occasion.

"It's not just how much you drink but the pattern of your drinking," lead author Iain Lang of the University of Exeter in England told USA Today. "Older people need to be aware, if they do binge-drink, of the risks and they should change their behaviors."

A second study showed that women who drank heavily early in life or who were moderate drinkers after 65 were also more likely to suffer cognitive decline, according to Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg also reported that the Alzheimer's Association said in a statement that alcohol had previously been thought to reduce the risk of cognitive decline in some older people. The two new studies suggest more research is needed, and Lang told Bloomberg in an email that new research should be done specifically to look at the effects of alcohol consumption and how binge drinking at a younger age can affect people later in life.

More from GlobalPost: CDC: 1 in 13 pregnant women admit to drinking alcohol

According to USA Today, binge drinking appears to be a substantial problem in the United States. Those most likely to binge-drink make more than $75,000 a year, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends moderation if you decide to drink, which is no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120720/study-binge-drinking-increases-risk-cognitive-decline