More alcohol, less brain Scientists say
Post created on 11:34 am
Alcohol is harmful to the brain, even light-to-moderate drinking according to a new study.
Scientists have found out that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption was associated with reductions in overall brain volume.
This is the result of a well-proven research by scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and published in a journal authored by Remi Daviet, Gideon Nave, Reagan R. Wetherill and others titled “Associations between alcohol consumption and gray and white matter volumes in the UK Biobank”
The science on heavy drinking and the brain is clear: The two don’t have a healthy relationship. People who drink heavily have alterations in brain structure and size that are associated with cognitive impairments.
But according to a new study, alcohol consumption even at levels most would consider modest — a few beers or glasses of wine a week — may also carry risks to the brain.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 36,000 adults that found a link between drinking and reduced brain volume that begins at an average consumption level of less than one alcohol unit a day — the equivalent of about half a beer — and rises with each additional drink.
Volunteer participants had responded to survey questions about their alcohol consumption levels, from complete abstention to an average of four or more alcohol units a day. When the researchers grouped the participants by average-consumption levels, a small but apparent pattern emerged: The gray and white matter volume that might otherwise be predicted by the individual’s other characteristics was reduced.
Going from zero to one alcohol units didn’t make much of a difference in brain volume, but going from one to two or two to three units a day was associated with reductions in both gray and white matter.
“It’s not linear,” says Daviet. “It gets worse the more you drink.”
Even removing the heavy drinkers from the analyses, the associations remained. The lower brain volume was not localized to any one brain region, the scientists found.
To give a sense of the impact, the researchers compared the reductions in brain size linked with drinking to those that occur with aging. Based on their modeling, each additional alcohol unit consumed per day was reflected in a greater aging effect in the brain. While going from zero to a daily average of one alcohol unit was associated with the equivalent of a half a year of aging, the difference between zero and four drinks was more than 10 years of aging.