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Alcohol consumption even in small amounts can damage your brain health

Intake of any alcoholic beverages linked to reduce grey matter volume - worsening brain function


Key points from article :

The more alcohol consumed, the lower the brain volume.

"There’s no threshold drinking for harm–any alcohol is worse," said the lead author, Anya Topiwala.

Using the UK Biobank, researchers analysed data from 25,378 participants.

Higher volume of alcohol consumption per week was associated with up to a 0.8% change in grey matter volume.

"This might seem like a small figure, but it is...four times the contribution of smoking or BMI," - Topiwala.

Negative associations were seen between alcohol and integrity of white matter, the brain fibres that scaffold the billions of neurons that make up grey matter.

Underlying conditions made the negative association stronger.

No evidence to suggest alcoholic beverage type conferred differences in risks to the brain.

In 2016, new alcohol guidelines in the UK, recommending that both men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week.

Topiwala said the study showed evidence of harm below that threshold.

Study by University of Oxford published in medRxiv.

Mentioned in this article:

Click on resource name for more details.

Anya Topiwala

Wellcome Trust CRCD Fellow and consultant psychiatrist.


Website distributing complete but unpublished scientific results

University of Oxford

Collegiate research university and one of the world's leading universities

Topics mentioned on this page:
Alcohol, Mental Health