OT: Alcohol shrinks the healthy brain


**Brain Volumes Shrink With One Daily Drink**
**— Even light to moderate alcohol intake shows effects**

**by Judy George, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today March 4, 2022**

**Light to moderate alcohol consumption -- as few as one or two drinks a day -- was linked with reductions in overall brain volume, a cross-sectional study showed.**

**Among nearly 37,000 healthy adults in the U.K. Biobank, alcohol intake was negatively associated with global brain volume measures, regional gray matter volumes, and white matter microstructure...**

**The link was stronger with greater alcohol consumption. As drinking increased from one alcohol unit (about half a beer) a day to two units (a pint of beer or a glass of wine) in 50-year-olds, for example, brain changes were equivalent to the effect of aging 2 years. An increase from two alcohol units to three showed changes equivalent to aging 3.5 years. Associations remained even when heavy drinkers were removed from the analysis....** [end quote]

The nice thing about having national health care is that large, population-scale databases are readily available, which usually isn’t possible in the U.S.

This was a nice, large study so the results are reliable. Note that the people in the study were healthy – that is, they didn’t have brain diseases such as alcoholism or Alzheimer’s.

Ironically, although the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that women consume an average of no more than one drink per day, recommended limits for men are twice that, an amount that exceeds the consumption level associated in the study with decreased brain volume.

There’s some evidence that binge drinking is worse for the brain than a small amount every day, but they haven’t looked closely at that yet.

Sorry to be a party-pooper, but this is a caution for those who regularly enjoy alcohol, even in small to moderate amounts.