This common habit may literally be shrinking your brain

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.

Related Posts

Comments

5 Comments

  1. “Although moderate drinking has been correlated with lower risk of heart disease, doctors warn that the benefits of drinking are outweighed by the risks.” The BENEFITS of drinking alcohol outweigh its risks? Something about that statement does not seem right.

  2. Michelle, reread the statement in the body of the report. You have misread and misquoted what was said.

  3. I can see how the structure of that sentence can cause the reader to pause and think about it. Ms. Bainbridge wrote “Although moderate drinking has been correlated with lower risk of heart disease, doctors warn that the benefits of drinking are outweighed by the risks.” If I read it over again, only this time, more slowly, pausing at the comma. I take it to mean that the risks of drinking outweigh the benefits, meaning the risks are greater, heavier, more in weight, there are more risks than benefits. So if the risks are higher, more than the benefits are, then the message is drinking does more harm than it does good; from a health stand point, it is healthier not to drink alcohol, than to drink alcohol, appealing to our common sense- is what I understood from that sentence. Interesting article, it sure does make me think about one’s diet, and exercise; very educational.

  4. CDC defines moderate drinking as “up to one drink per day for women (7 drinks/week?) and two drinks per day for men (14 drinks/per week?)” and seems to be acceptable while the moderate drinkers in the study defines “roughly 4-6 drinks per week” which is less than half the definition of the CDC’s but showing very scary effects.

  5. Trudy Careen Iannarone June 23, 2017 at 5:36 pm · Reply

    I agree with this article. I don’t drink, don’t do illegal drugs, and exercise my brain a lot in many different ways. I have seen and known many adults that suffered early alcohol brain damage who struggled or struggle to do various levels of thought . I also believe that tuna fish , 100% natural Grape Juice, and usage of natural anti oxidants like Cinnamon in the coffee, real Red Tea from Louisiana when used each and every day can keep ones brain functions well and happy. Refraining from over indulgence of sugars help the entire body and brain going at a steady pace and not bogged down by sugar spikes and rushes.

    I enjoyed this article.
    Trudy Iannarone

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.