How the 'moderate' drinking myth could age your brain fast

Two drinks a night. That's the very definition of a moderate drinking habit, right?

But before you reach for that second glass, there's a new study you need to see -- one that shows how a so-called moderate drinking habit can actually age your brain faster, speeding the onset of cognitive decline.

Start a two-a-night habit in middle age, and by the time you reach your senior years you could suffer the equivalent of an extra six years of cognitive decline, according to the study.

And the damage doesn't end there.

That second drink could also lead to a decline in executive function -- including your ability to reason -- equal to about 1.5 years of aging. Regular drinkers even suffer from declines in everything from math skills to verbal fluency, according to the study.

Put it all together, and that means a moderate drinking habit could land you in the express lane for dementia and even Alzheimer's disease.

Women who have two drinks a night are also more likely to suffer from cognitive problems, according to the study, but the link isn't as clear as it is in men. And the study found no risk for people who have one drink a night.

But don't push your luck.

I don't think there's any such thing as a safe nightly drinking habit, because even a little booze on a regular basis can increase the risk of cancer (especially breast cancer in women).

And for some people, a light or moderate drinking habit can slowly turn into addiction and alcoholism -- leading to everything from shattered lives to chronic disease, including diseases of the liver.

I recommend abstaining, but I recognize that's not realistic for many people. The next best thing is to limit your drinking to holidays and special occasions, and never go beyond a drink or two.