This common habit may literally be shrinking your brain
Individuals who drink regularly, even with moderation, may experience dwindling of certain mental skills faster as they get older, a new study shows.
The study measured 550 British adults with an average age of 43 at the outset of the research. Over a span of 30 years, the participants reported their alcohol intake and health habits every five years. The tests involved standard informational examinations as well as memory tests.
The research from the study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, showed that memory problems and brain shrinkage were both common issues associated with older people that drank their entire lives. These effects were not just found in heavy drinkers, but also in moderate drinkers who had roughly four to six drinks per week. This common link was noticed by researchers even though the findings did not prove that alcohol was the cause.
Although moderate drinking has been correlated with lower risk of heart disease, doctors warn that the benefits of drinking are outweighed by the risks.
Dr. Mary Ellen Moore, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. says, “People should be aware of their alcohol consumption and limit their weekly intake. In addition to the possibility of impaired brain function as we age, drinking puts people at a higher risk for liver disease, strokes, depression, as well as many different types of cancers involving the throat, esophagus, and liver.”
Although the study did find correlations between moderate drinking and slipping brain functions, there are improvements that can be made in further research. For example, many of the “non-drinkers” involved in the study were former “heavy drinkers” and may have had an alcohol problem that caused them to quit. Because of this, the people who were moderate drinkers for their whole lives probably started out healthier.
Dr. Moore stated, “This study in particular suggests that drinking could lead to problems as we age. It is important to note that practicing responsible drinking is critical for maintaining a healthy life.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines moderate drinking as “up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men – and only by adults of legal drinking age.” This guideline can help adults who drink regulate themselves at a safe and moderate rate.
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