Drink up! Be smarter?

Japanese study finds moderate drinking good for brain

Dec 7, 2000 - A moderate amount of alcohol a day is good for the brain cells, according to a Japanese study that found moderate drinking can improve intelligence.


A team from the National Institute for Longevity Sciences tested the IQs of 2,000 people aged from 40 to 79. They found that on average men who drank moderately had an IQ 3.3 points higher than those who did not drink. Women drinkers scored 2.5 points higher than females who did not drink.

The Japanese scientists defined moderate drinking as less than 540ml of sake or wine a day. They said the type of alcohol did not influence the results. Volunteers drank beer, whisky, wine and sake.

The scientists also concluded that drinking alcohol excessively impaired intellectual ability. But the team said the findings had to be treated with caution. It might be that people who drank were brighter in the first place and the alcohol still impaired their intelligence, but not to the level of the teetotallers.

Hiroshi Shimokata, the chief researcher, said: "It's very difficult to show a cause-effect relationship. We screened subjects for factors such as income and education but there may be other factors such as lifestyle and nutritional intake."

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