A glass or two of wine each day can help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, the biggest ever study has found.
Researchers discovered those who indulged in light to moderate social drinking were 23 per cent less likely to develop forms of dementia and cognitive impairment.
‘It is well accepted that a glass of wine is good for your heart and reduces coronary artery and cardiovascular diseases,’ said Edward J Neafsey, a co-author of the study carried out at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
He added that moderate alcohol consumption had the same effect on the brain.
Scientists analysed more than 140 studies, dating back to 1977, and involving more than 365,000 people.
Wine was also found to be more beneficial than beer or spirits, according to the findings published in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment.
But the researchers said most studies in the analysis did not distinguish between the different types of alcohol.
Moderate drinking was defined as a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one drink for women.
But heavy drinking, three to five drinks a day, was associated with a higher risk of dementia.
Both Neafsey and his co-author Michael A Collins, professors of molecular pharmacology and therapeutics, suggested that small amounts of alcohol stress and toughen brain cells.
It enables them to cope better with the stresses that lead to dementia at a later date.
Neafsey added: ‘It causes a mild stress ahead of a serious stress which then protects the tissues and the cells.’
He did not recommend non-drinkers to suddenly start drinking, and for people who do drink to enjoy their alcohol in moderation.
He said exercise, education and a Mediterranean diet could also reduce the risks of developing dementia.
He added: ‘The key words here are light to moderate drinking. The enjoyment of a good meal with friends and glass of wine is a traditional human pleasure that most people enjoy.’