The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter, was presented July 18 at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.
The researchers examined data from 5,075 US adults aged 65+ and found that those who drank heavily at least two times per month were more than 50% more likely to suffer severe cognitive decline.
Another study involving 1,300 women aged 65 and over, conducted by researchers at the National Institute for Health Research and the University of California, found that women were significantly more likely to develop cognitive impairment if they drank heavily in earlier life, drank in moderation in later life, or began to consume alcohol in later life.
According to the Alzheimer's Society:
"There has been a lot of research into the link between alcohol and dementia. What is becoming increasingly apparent is that while an occasional tipple could actually help to protect the brain, binge drinking could be linked to an increased cognitive decline.
These latest studies help reinforce the link between heavy drinking and dementia, but we need much more research to better understand exactly how drinking alcohol affects the brain. In the meantime, eating well and exercising regularly are key ways of reducing your risk of dementia."