Carolinas HealthCare System
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Recent Study: Daily Drinking May Increase Memory Loss in Middle-Aged Men

If you or a loved one need help cutting back on alcohol consumption or have additional questions for Dr. Bozman, visit Carolinas HealthCare System’s behavioral health website.

A study published on January 16, 2014 in the prestigious journal Neurology shows that drinking daily may put middle-aged men at risk for memory loss. 

The study finds men who drank more than two and a half alcoholic beverages per day experienced memory loss and other cognitive declines up to six years earlier than moderate drinkers. 

“First, it is important to remember that alcohol consumption is not healthy,” said Alan Bozman, PhD, assistant vice president with Carolinas HealthCare Systems Behavioral Health services. “We need to note this because many studies come out and state things like, ‘moderate use of alcohol reduces heart attacks’ but these studies tend to focus on one aspect of human health." 

Is it Different for Women?

Bozman went on to say that while the study discusses the impact of alcohol on women, it appears to indicate that moderate consumption improves cognitive function compared to abstainers. However, he says, this does not address the other negative health impacts of moderate alcohol consumption for women.  

“We also know that heavy alcohol consumption contributes to increases in depression and it is possible that increases in depression may account for a portion of the impaired cognitive function in heavy drinking males,” said Dr. Bozman. 

A Constellation of Issues

There are many studies that link heavy alcohol consumption and depression and many studies that link depression and cognitive impairment. Dr. Bozman noted that in the behavioral health realm, they always ask what the motivation for heavy alcohol consumption is. 

“Often heavy alcohol consumption is an indicator of a constellation of behavioral health and physical issues that would likely impact cognitive function. Issues like depression, anxiety, abuse and trauma all have a negative impact on cognitive function.” 

In conclusion, if you don’t drink, don’t start. And if you are a regular drinker, cut back on how much you drink. 

“Like my mom said, you can do many things in moderation but most things in excess are harmful,” said Dr. Bozman.