A new research published in BMJ comes with bad news for partygoers. It seems that even moderate drinking can affect the brain, as it issues changes in the brain structure and function. Heavy drinkers are at the highest risk of brain damage, but moderate drinkers are not safe from danger either.
- Even moderate drinking affect our brain’s health.
- Alcohol increases the risk of hippocampal atrophy.
- Drinking limit recommendations are questioned by the results of the study.
The longitudinal study closely observed a number of 550 middle-aged people for 30 years. The participants belonged to all three categories. Some of them were heavy drinkers, others enjoyed drinking moderately, while the third category were non-consumers of alcohol.
Researchers discovered that the more alcohol people drank, the more at risk were they of developing hippocampal atrophy. This is a brain condition which affects spatial navigation abilities and memory. More precisely, people drinking more than 30 units of alcohol per week had the highest risk of hippocampal atrophy.
However, the risk was still present even in moderate drinkers, who consume between 14 and 21 units a week. This is interesting, since some organizations claim that drinking moderately is safe. In fact, the study was developed as a method of testing the drinking guidelines recommended by certain associations.
In the US, recommendations say it’s safe to consume up to 24.5 alcohol units per week. However, results show that even 14 units might have an adverse effect on the brain. Even if you regard your drinking habits as normal, they might actually be harmful.
Scientists measured the cognitive performance of the participants regularly, between 1985 and 2015. The average age was of 43, and all the other factors which could influence the brain damage risks were taken into consideration. Thus, they found that alcohol consumption is, indeed, related to a decline in the brain function.
However, the study was observational, so researchers couldn’t identify any cause and effect. Even so, the results are still relevant and should be made public, so that people should know alcohol is bad for their brain even in smaller quantities.
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