Drinking linked to memory loss in men
However, there were no differences in memory or cognitive function between non-drinkers and those who drank less than two drinks, or 20g of alcohol, per day, according to the findings.
For the study, more than 5000 middle-aged men were interviewed about their drinking habits three times over 10 years.
Then they underwent memory and other cognitive tests beginning at an average age of 56. These tests were repeated twice over the next 10 years.
"Our study focused on middle-aged participants and suggests that heavy drinking is associated with faster decline in all areas of cognitive function in men,” said study author Dr Severine Sabia of University College London.
The mental abilities of heavy drinkers declined 1.5 to six years faster than those who had fewer drinks per day.
Men who drank 36g of alcohol or more per day saw the steepest declines in their memory and neurological function.
Some 2000 women were also