Wine Prevents Dementia, But Scientists Aren’t Sure Why

Drinking one glass of wine a day with a meal may lower risk of dementia.

We love a good study on aging and wine (or coffee). Mostly we love wine, but finding research that supports that love is always reassuring.

Most recently, we came across this note in Wine Spectator about a study that took place in China. Scientists have been studying the relationship between wine and brain health—specifically dementia—for years, but a clear agreement hasn’t been struck because there are so many varying theories, differing study techniques, and an immense amount of data that’s been collected over the years.

Researchers from Qingdao Municipal Hospital and Ocean University, both in China, took thousands of recent studies and analyzed them, hoping to come to some kind of conclusion (thanks, guys).

They looked at 11 all-cause dementia (ACD) studies with 73,330 participants, five Alzheimer’s dementia studies with 52,715 participants and four vascular dementia studies with 49,535 participants. They used a random-effect model to analyze the data.

Their conclusions? A glass of wine a day prevents dementia. More than that—like 3 to 4 glasses—can increase the risk of dementia (heavy beer drinking also increases dementia; a beer a day doesn’t seem to prevent it). But why?

The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research (ISFAR), a group of scientists and researchers dedicated to analyzing alcohol and health-related studies (cool job), published a critique of the Chinese data analysis, hoping to come to a few conclusions.

“It’s pretty clear that people who drink wine [are] lowering the risk of developing dementia; what we were trying to do is see why this is true,” explained Dr. Curtis Ellison, co-director of ISFAR and professor at Boston University School of Medicine. “It’s the polyphenols in wine that seem to give it extra protection, and it’s probably that polyphenols work best with alcohol. [But wine] also evidently has mechanisms that are still poorly understood.”

Those glorious little polyphenols have serious anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and somehow, they seem to work best in wine. We’ll raise a glass of rosé to that!

READ MORE

We love wine but hate hangovers: here’s the ultimate cure, and the ultimate hangover-fixing breakfast.
Plus—we get a little annoyed when people try to take the alcohol-is-healthy thing too far. Anti-aging gin? Yeah right. Collagen beer? Weird.

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