Sunday, February 18, 2018
Low Alcohol Intake Could Help Reduce Risks Of Alzheimer's, Dementia
2/5/2018 2:25:29 PM
Antonio Manaytay - Fourth Estate Contributor

Rochester, NY, United States (4E) - Excessive alcohol consumption could have adverse effects on health but a new study had shown that small doses of alcohol are "potentially beneficial to brain health."

"Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system. However, in this study, we have shown for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health," Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., the lead author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, said.

Nedergaard, a co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said low levels of alcohol consumption could help the brain remove the toxins.

The study focused on the glymphatic system, known as the unique cleaning process of the brain, showing how cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) goes into the tissues of the brain and flushed away the waste. Among the wastes removed in the process were the proteins beta-amyloid and tau, usually associated with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Nedergaard's research was done on mice to determine the effects of both acute and chronic alcohol consumption.

The brain of the mice exposed to high level of alcohol for long period has shown signs of inflammation in astrocytes cells, key regulators of the glymphatic system. The animal had also shown impairment of its motor skills and cognitive abilities.

In contrast, the animals that less exposed to alcohol, which is roughly equal to two-and-a-half glass per day, had demonstrated less inflammation in their brains. Their glymphatic systems were also more efficient in flushing out the waste. Mice which were not exposed to alcohol were less efficient in moving out the waste.

"The data on the effects of alcohol on the glymphatic system seemingly matches the J-shaped model relating to the dose effects of alcohol on general health and mortality," Nedergaard said.

Low levels of alcohol consumption are beneficial to one's health, he noted.

"Studies have shown that low-to-moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lesser risk of dementia, while heavy drinking for many years confers an increased risk of cognitive decline. This study may help explain why this occurs," Nedergaard said.

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