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If you’ve been following our blog but can’t remember the title of the last article you read (this one doesn’t count—nice try), there might be a reason for that. Researchers have recently confirmed that heavy drinking in midlife can lead to a slow cognitive burn whereby a man aged 50 can end up with the memory-span of a 60-year-old. According to the study’s results, published in the journal Neurology, the problem lay in the amount of alcohol consumed: while light to moderate drinkers (1.5 drinks or less per day) shouldn’t expect much in the way of memory decline, those who manage 2.5 U.S.-sized glasses of wine, beer, or mixed drinks, per day, should probably consider picking up some sticky notes for the days ahead.

The study focused on middle-aged participants (5,054 male; 2,099 female), and on the question of whether heavier drinking led to faster decline in cognitive function of all areas. Drinking habits were monitored over a ten-year period; when participants reached the age of 56, they would take their first memory and executive function test (to be repeated twice over the following ten years). The results shouldn’t surprise anyone.

In an article posted on PsychCentral’s website, study author Séverine Sabia, PhD, and researchers conclude:

This study suggests that men consuming 36 grams [or 2.5 U.S.-sized drinks] per day or more of alcohol in midlife were more likely to experience faster 10-year cognitive decline in all cognitive domains; in women, there was weaker evidence of this effect occurring at 19 grams per day, but only for executive function.

“Our findings are in agreement with previous studies showing that moderate alcohol consumption is probably not deleterious for cognitive outcomes, but they also show that heavy alcohol consumption in midlife is likely to be harmful for cognitive aging, at least in men.

It’s always amazing to see real-time developments of the brain in response to the abuse that we may or may not realize we’re subjecting it to.

Take care of your brain. Take care of yourself.