Any amount of alcohol is bad for the brain, study shows

Drinking in moderation can reduce the number of traffic accidents and other problems related to drunkenness, but it does not lessen the impact of alcohol on health. This is what a study by researchers at the University of Oxford, in England, shows.

Scientists studied the relationship between the self-reported alcohol consumption of around 25,000 people in the UK and their brain scans. This is an observational study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed. The research showed that alcohol consumption had an effect on the brain’s gray matter – brain regions that are “important parts where information is processed”, explains the author. Principal Anya Topiwala, Oxford Senior Clinical Research Fellow.

Alcohol showed only a small contribution to this (0.8%). However, this impact is greater than other preventable risk factors – unlike aging, for example.

ANY KIND OF ALCOHOL IS HARMFUL

The researchers also investigated whether certain alcohol consumption patterns, types of drinking and other health conditions made a difference in the results. That’s how they figured out that there was no “safe” level of drinking – meaning that consuming any amount of alcohol was worse than not drinking at all. They also found no evidence that the type of drink influenced brain damage.

However, certain characteristics, such as high blood pressure, obesity or excessive alcohol consumption, may put people at greater risk, the researchers added. “So many people drink ‘moderately’ and think it’s harmless or even protective,” Topiwala told CNN via email. The researcher highlighted that the discovery can help prevent brain damage, which is relevant to public health. Mainly because science still hasn’t found a cure for neurodegenerative diseases.

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OTHER DAMAGE CAUSED TO THE BODY

It is not news that alcohol consumption is harmful to health. Experts and medical authorities around the world warn about the risks of excessive intake of alcoholic beverages – which we now know doesn’t take much to be harmful. According to professionals from different areas of health, there are at least seven ways that alcohol impacts the functioning of the body:

Decreased metabolism;

Skin problems;

Dryness, breakage and hair loss;

female infertility;

Intestinal problems;

Circulatory problems;

Oral diseases.

“The more people drank, the less their gray matter volume.” Brain volume decreases with age and more severely with dementia. Decreased brain volume also predicts worse performance on memory tests,” Topiwala told CNN.

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