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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 00:01 GMT
Wine protects against dementia
Drinking
On way to ward off brain disease?
People who drink wine occasionally may have a lower risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, research suggests.

Scientists found people who drank wine weekly or monthly were more than two times less likely to develop dementia.


We could potentially develop treatments or prevention methods based on these substances

Dr Thomas Truelsen
The lead researcher was Dr Thomas Truelsen, of the Institute of Preventive Medicine at Kommunehospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark.

He said: "These results don't mean that people should start drinking wine or drink more wine than they usually do.

"But they are exciting because they could mean that substances in wine reduce the occurrence of dementia.

"If that's the case, we could potentially develop treatments or prevention methods based on these substances."

Key compound

Dr Truelsen's team believe the key to beneficial effect are a group of compounds called flavonoids which are found in wine, particularly red wine.

These compounds help to minimise the damage caused to the body's tissues by charged particles called free radicals which are released when oxygen is converted into energy in the body's cells.

Other studies have suggested that flavonoids may account for a lower occurrence of stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases among wine drinkers.

The researchers identified the drinking patterns of 1,709 people in Copenhagen in the 1970s and then assessed them for dementia in the 1990s, when they were aged 65 or older.

Over the two decades, 83 of the participants developed dementia.

There seemed to be no protective effect from drinking wine every day.

And people who drank beer regularly seemed to be at an increased risk of developing dementia.

Diet could be important

Dr John Brust, a neurologist at Harlem Hospital Center in New York, said the study was limited because it had failed to take into account eating habits.

He said: "Research suggests that wine drinkers may have better dietary habits than beer and liquor drinkers.

"There is also evidence that dietary vitamin E may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's. These factors were not accounted for in this study.

"Nonetheless, this is a provocative report providing evidence that there is indeed something specifically beneficial about wine."

The research is published in Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

See also:

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