A recently released study claims that even moderate drinking could lead to cognitive damages when compared to light drinkers or those who do not drink alcohol at all. This contradicts the common belief that this type of drinking may actually be beneficial for the health.
The Effects of Moderate Drinking Measured in Brain Function Levels
The new research was carried out by scientists part of University College London and the University of Oxford. Their results are available in a paper in the journal BMJ, the former British Medical Journal.
The research was an observational study and targeted the alcohol intake of participants in the Whitehall II study. Over the last three decades, this has been tracking the social behavior and ailments of around 550 British civil servants. Both men and women, these had an average age of 43 years old at the study’s baseline.
For the new study, its researchers regularly tested the Whitehall II participants. These were also asked to self-report their drinking habits and take MRIs. Through these, the researchers were able to analyze the volunteers’ brain functions.
The team noted that heavy drinkers presented increased risks of developing hippocampal atrophy. In its turn, this can lead to spatial navigation problems and even dementia. The scientists established heavy drinkers as those consuming over 30 units of alcohol every week.
Still, the team stated that: “Even those drinking moderately (14-21 units/week) had three times the odds of right sided hippocampal atrophy.”
At least when compared to abstainers. Still, the results of moderate and light drinking were quite surprising. The team reports being surprised by the lack of “protective effects” of this habit.
According to them, even so-called “social drinkers” showed signs of cognitive decline over the 30 years follow-up. So the team concluded that even moderate and light drinking can be linked to “adverse brain outcomes”.
Still, other researchers tend to disagree with the study results. They point out that this research did not take into account various lifestyle factors, including nutrition. Some also state that as this was solely an observational study, it should not conclude “causation”.
Image Source: Pexels