Even moderate alcohol consumption adversely affects almost every part of the brain. These are the findings of a study of more than 25,000 people in the UK, quoted by the Guardian.
The study shows that the more alcohol consumed, the smaller the volume of the brain.
Which means that the more you drink, the worse your brain is, and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease increases.
“There is no threshold for harmful drinking – any amount of alcohol is bad. Almost the entire brain is affected, not just specific areas, as previously thought, “said study leader Dr. Anya Topivala, a senior clinical lecturer at Oxford University, writes zdrve.to.
The study used Britain’s Biobank, a large database designed to help researchers decode the genetic and environmental factors that cause some people to develop disease while others do not. The Oxford researchers analyzed the data of 25,378 participants, taking into account their age, gender, education, reported alcohol consumption, size and health of the brain, which are seen on magnetic resonance imaging, information about hospital and outpatient visits and memory tests.
The researchers found that higher alcohol consumption per week was associated with lower gray matter density, with alcohol explaining up to 0.8% of the change in gray matter volume, even after taking into account individual biological and behavioral characteristics.
“This percentage may seem small, but it contributes more than any other variable risk factor.
The contribution of alcohol to the damage of health is four times higher than that of smoking or the body mass index, ”says Dr. Topivala.
There are also strong negative links between alcohol consumption and the integrity of white matter, the brain fibers that scaffold the billions of neurons that make up gray matter.
In addition, concomitant human diseases, such as high blood pressure and overweight, make the negative link between alcohol and brain health stronger.
Contrary to previous research suggesting that moderate wine consumption is beneficial over beer or concentrated alcohol, this study found no evidence that the type of alcoholic beverage has a bearing on brain risks.
Linking wine consumption as a habit of people with higher education and socioeconomic status may explain the notion that it brings health benefits, the authors suggest.
“If you look at who drinks in moderation, at least in the UK, they are more educated, richer people. They would do much better on a memory test than people with lower education, but only because of their basic mental skills, ”says Dr. Topivala.
For several years, the UK Department of Health has introduced new guidelines for alcohol use in the UK, recommending that men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week (1 unit of alcohol equals 10 ml of pure alcohol). However, Dr. Topivala and her study prove harm to health even below this threshold of 14 units per week.