Study Reveals Even Moderate Drinking could result in Brain Damage

Published Date : Jun 07, 2017

Research has shown that drinking alcohol in moderation can be good for our health. For instance, doctors have, in the past, recommended a beer or glass of wine every night as part of diet plans such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet, Drinks such as these have been known to keep one’s brain and heart healthy.

However, a recent study has suggested that even drinking in moderation can be harmful for the brain. Published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday, the researchers referred to the alcohol intake of people on a weekly basis as stated in the Whitehall II study. Scientists from the University College London and University of Oxford observed how participants of the study performed on an MRI and on regular brain function tests. These participants – a group of British civil servants – have been observed and tracked for 30 years, with their disease trajectory and social behaviors being mapped.

High Risk of Hippocampal Atrophy among Heavy Drinkers

Scientists discovered that those who consumed alcohol the most presented the greatest risk of hippocampal atrophy, which is a type of brain damage affecting spatial navigation. It has also been associated with memory loss conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Heavy drinkers within the group exhibited rapidly diminishing language skills and even lower white matter integrity. This is known to be extremely crucial to thought processing.

A number of research studies have shown that heavy drinkers will exhibit some changes in their brain over a period of time; so much so that even those who drink in moderation will go through similar, if not as severe, changes. Compared to those who did not drink at all, moderate drinkers also presented a greater risk of hippocampal atrophy.