Pint of beer

Dr Katy Jones (Assistant Professor of Applied Psychology from the Institute's Centre for Dementia) appeared on the BBC Radio Four Today programme on the morning of Thursday 2nd August reviewing the latest findings from a UCL published study. The study published in The BMJ looked at the association between alcohol consumption and dementia.

 

Published in The BMJ, the long-term study tracked over 9,000 participants and found that those who drank over the recommended alcohol limits for men and women and also those who have been teetotal in midlife were at an increased risk of dementia.

Dr Katy Jones commented on the study:

“Given the importance of long term brain health, the power of messages received through the media about alcohol, and the potential subjectivity of ‘moderate drinking’ we should be careful in how these results are framed. An important consideration is that people in better health are more likely to be drinking moderately. Articles with similar findings often conclude researchers aren’t prepared to recommend that people take up alcohol to improve their health. If researchers aren’t prepared to recommend this, we should be treating these findings with caution.

“The sample size seems sound and typical for studies in the area. I notice the data was collected during 1985 and 1993 which was a time of the introduction of unit guidelines in the UK (they were higher then than they are now for men). The data seems to support the conclusions.

“The study supports adhering to current UK unit guidelines and fits with what we call a ‘J-shaped curve’ (people who abstain from alcohol or drink heavily have poorer health outcomes than people in the middle).

“We are sometimes cautious about the J-shaped curve because of three things: people who are in poor health are more likely to quit alcohol, recent evidence suggests alcohol consumption is an indicator rather than a cause of good health, and people find the units system confusing which results in inaccurate estimations of their alcohol consumption.”

 

For a short period you can listen again to the feature as it appears on the BBC Radio Four Today programme - Thursday 2nd August episode, 01:50:00