How does alcohol affect your intelligence?

Smart with alcohol?

Too much alcohol dulls the senses? but a study in Japan now shows that moderate drinkers have higher IQs than teetotalers.

Researchers at the National Institute for Longevity Sciences in Aichi Prefecture, Japan tested the IQ of 2,000 people between the ages of 40 and 79. Did you find that people who drink alcohol moderately? less than 540 milliliters of sake or wine per day? have an IQ 3.3 points higher than men who have never drunk alcohol. Alcohol-drinking women had an IQ 2.5 points higher than female non-alcoholics. The type of alcohol was irrelevant.

The scientists emphasize, however, that the results do not allow the conclusion that drinking would make you smarter: “It is very difficult to establish a relationship between cause and effect. We also looked at factors such as subjects' income and upbringing. But more factors, such as lifestyle and diet, probably have an influence, ”says the scientist Hiroshi Shimokata.

According to Shimokata, people who drink the Japanese rice wine sake eat more raw fish than others. This could, for example, be a factor that has a positive influence on intelligence. Fish often contains fatty acids that have been linked to brain development. Similarly, wine drinkers often eat cheese, which the Japanese typically don't. Shimokata can imagine that the high fat content in cheese is good for the brain.

But if the alcoholic beverages themselves should have a direct impact on IQ, Shimokata explains, the chemicals in the beverages, such as polyphenols, could be the decisive factors. They are known to have antioxidant effects and other beneficial effects, such as widening narrowed arteries, on an aging body.

December 12, 2000

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