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01/15/2014 04:12 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Heavy Drinking Linked To Memory Loss In Older Men, Study Shows

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While research has suggested men may be able to hold their alcohol better than women, a new study shows heavy drinking may prove harmful to them later in life.

Middle-aged men who drink more than two and a half drinks per day are likely to show signs of memory loss and cognitive decline up to six years sooner than men who are light drinkers or eschew drinking altogether, new research found. The study, published Wednesday in the medical journal Neurology, enlisted 5,054 men between the ages of 34 and 59 and documented their drinking habits at three points over the course of a decade. Then, for the following decade, the researchers assessed the reasoning skills and memory of the men at three points.

While the men who either didn't drink, stopped drinking or drank in moderation showed no changes in cognition, the men whose intake exceeded 2.5 drinks per day showed cognitive declines.

"Our study focused on middle-aged participants and suggests that heavy drinking is associated with faster declines in all areas of cognitive function in men," study author Severine Sabia of the University College London said in a release.

Heavy drinking among older adults has been on the upswing in recent years. A 2009 study revealed around 10 percent of men and women between ages 50 and 64 said they've had five or more alcoholic beverages in a day.

A similar Finnish study found participants who drank alcohol frequently were twice as likely as those who drank in moderation to encounter mild cognitive impairments in old age.

A little something to consider before you pour yourself another drink.

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