" Those with a moderate alcohol consumption had three times the risk of right sided hippocampal atrophy. "
Does drinking alcohol every day damage your brain?

It seems like a leading question, with the obvious answer being yes, of course too much alcohol is a bad thing, but what about drinking alcohol in moderation?

A new study by Oxford University researchers in the UK have found that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of adverse brain outcomes and steeper decline in cognitive skill. But what does moderate alcohol consumption mean?

In the study, moderate alcohol consumption was identified as 14-21 units per week. Putting this into perspective, 21 units of alcohol is equivalent to about 5 pints of beer or 7 large glasses of wine.

The Australian Government recommends that healthy men and women drink no more than two standard drinks on any day.

So let’s delve a bit more into the study!

The research, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) followed 550 men and women with an average age of 43 over a 30-year period. All participants were involved in the Whitehall II study which began back in 1985 in the UK.

During the 30-year study, weekly alcohol consumption was identified, along with cognition being regularly assessed. Brain scans were undertaken at the end-point, so between 2012-2015.

High alcohol consumption (30 units or more) was associated with increased risk of hippocampal brain atrophy, a form of brain damage that affects memory and spatial navigation.

While high alcohol consumption was of course bad for brain health, also of concern was that those with a moderate alcohol consumption had three times the risk of right sided hippocampal atrophy.

However, the authors do point out that this is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. Meaning there is in fact no link from this study that drinking alcohol in moderation causes or is linked to dementia in later life.

Basically, this study just adds further evidence to suggest to not over do it when drinking alcohol.

The Australian Government has new national guidelines for alcohol consumption which you can view here.

You can also view the original study here.

If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption, please visit a health professional to discuss a solution that best meets your needs.

 

 Posted: August 1st, 2017
Discussion

John said:

My wife would go on binge drinking of wine which would last for days at a time. I suppose I must take some of the blame for not stopping her early in a session as I thought common sense would prevail but when I could stand it no more I would take whatever drink was still in the house & tip it out. When she sobered up she would be sorry & eventually she would buy some more. But eventually we would go through the same cycle. This went on for many years & now at 72 yrs of age is in the early stage of Dementia.

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