According to a survey of over 25,000 people, there is no healthy level of alcohol intake for the brain, with even “moderate” drinking negatively impacting virtually every aspect of it.
According to the British report, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, the more alcohol consumed, the lower the brain volume. In essence, the more you drink, the worse your brain becomes. “There is no safe level of alcohol consumption; any alcohol is harmful. According to the lead scientist, Anya Topiwala, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Oxford, “pretty much the whole brain appears to be affected – not just small regions, as previously thought.”
The researchers discovered that higher alcohol intake was correlated with lower grey-matter density. It had four times the impact on brain health as smoking or becoming overweight.
Using the UK Biobank, a large database designed to help researchers decipher the genetic and environmental factors that cause certain people to develop diseases while others do not, researchers in this study analysed data from 25,378 participants, including age, gender, education, self-reported alcohol intake, brain size and health from MRI scans, information about hospital and outpatient visits, and a questionnaire.
The researchers discovered that higher weekly alcohol intake was correlated with lower grey-matter density, with alcohol explaining up to a 0.8% change in grey-matter volume, even after accounting for individual biological and behavioural characteristics.
This can seem to be a small figure, but it contributes more than any other modifiable risk factor. According to Topiwala, it is four times the contribution of smoking or BMI.
There were also widespread negative correlations between alcohol intake and the integrity of white matter, the brain fibres that support the billions of neurons that comprise grey matter. Furthermore, high blood pressure, obesity, and other underlying factors exacerbated the negative relationship between alcohol and brain health.
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