In a 321-patient study, researchers found that early stage Alzheimer's patients who drank up to three units of alcohol daily had 77 percent lowered death risk.
The reduced rate is in direct comparison to patients who had one unit or less of alcohol daily. Researchers stressed that the results could have been influenced by external factors. Moderate drinkers could have a stronger social circle. Patients who had little alcohol could already be in the terminal phase.
"However, we cannot solely, on the basis of this study, either encourage or advise against moderate alcohol consumption in [these] patients," said a spokesperson for the Danish Alzheimer's Intervention Study.
The study revealed a potentially good relationship between moderate consumption of alcohol and increased life expectancy. But the results are not enough to recommend a lifestyle change among Alzheimer's patients.
A glass of red wine or a pint of beer has 2.3 units of alcohol. A single shot of other favorites normally has one unit.
According to the National Health Services' guidelines, women are advised to stick to three units of alcohol a day. Men can take as much as four units daily.
Various studies linked moderate alcohol consumption to lower risks of strokes and heart diseases in healthy individuals. However, alcohol has also been proven to kill off brain cells. Given the neurodegenerative nature of Alzheimer's, alcohol could do more harm than good.
"It only asked about current alcohol intake so that people who were sicker may have already cut down," said Professor Henry Brodaty from the University of New South Wales. Brodaty is the university's Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing co-director.
Brodaty highlighted that other potential factors that could have influenced the results were not measured. People should be cautious about embracing the findings that drinking everyday could extend life expectancy.
In the United Kingdom, over 850,000 people suffer from dementia, the most common cause being Alzheimer's disease. The findings were published in the journal BMJ Open on Dec. 11.
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