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Is your daily glass of wine reducing or increasing your chances of developing dementia? We take a look at some recent – very conflicting – research

Last week there was good news for wine drinkers when scientist declared moderate wine drinking (one glass per day) has a protective effect on the brain, which could actually help to prevent dementia and other cognitive disorders in older people.

The research was carried out by The University of California and published in the prestigious Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. It wasn’t the first-time scientists have arrived at this conclusion either. In fact, they’ve been examining the potential link between alcohol and dementia for several years. Just a couple of months ago a new analysis of medical research (involving more than 70,000 people) also concluded that a nightly glass of wine with your dinner could protect your mind, leading to a lower risk of dementia than total abstinence. Interestingly, it was only wine (not beer) that was found to have this protective effect.

For wine lovers, this was cause for celebration …until another study put a dampener on things by declaring that a glass of wine a day is enough to damage the brain and raise the risk of Alzheimer’ disease. Once again, the study came from a prestigious source; carried out at Oxford University and published in the British Medical Journal. It involved a lengthy 30- year study of 550 adults using brain imaging to explore the links between drinking and brain health, and concluded that people who drink six to nine medium glasses of wine per week were three times more likely than teetotallers to develop dementia.

However, there could be other factors at play too. For example, research also reveals that wine drinkers tend to come from higher socio-economic groups, they’re usually better educated and take pretty good care of their health in general, which includes eating healthily and taking exercise – all of which are known to help to reduce the risk of dementia. So perhaps it’s not just that nightly glass of wine, but their general lifestyle that’s having a protective effect and lowering their chances of developing dementia.

If there’s one point all scientists agree on though it’s that heavy drinking is definitely not a good idea. In fact, consuming more than 30 units per week could make you six times more likely to develop dementia. So whilst studies into the link between alcohol and dementia continue, it’s probably wise to make sure your favourite nightly tipple remains exactly that. And no more.