Light to Moderate Drinking Can Also Affect Brain Structure, Reveals New Study

How much alcohol is safe to drink is perhaps the most recurrently posed question. Science, however, does not appear to agree with itself on the subject. It is lesser than most people think, reveals a recent study. The study consisted of 550 participants whose brains were examined for a period as long as 30 years. The findings convey that even moderate levels of alcohol consumption are linked to ‘adverse brain outcomes’.

Heavy Drinking Associated with Memory Loss

The primary objective of the U.K.’s Whitehall II study is to assess the levels of stress and health among the participants, none of whom were regarded as alcohol-dependent. People who drank most amounts of alcohol were more susceptible to hippocampal atrophy, note the researchers. Hippocampal atrophy is a kind of brain damage generally linked to memory-loss disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Light to Moderate Drinkers Equally at Risk

Heavier drinkers registered quicker deterioration of language skills as well as reduced white matter integrity, an entity enabling the processing of thoughts in a smooth and prompt way. This part should not surprise researchers, considering that it backs up the findings of previous research.

What did surprise researchers, was the fact that the health of moderate consumers of alcohol also underwent changes, exhibiting a greater risk of hippocampal atrophy when compared with non-drinkers. A co-author of the research study, Dr. Anya Topiwala says that it was shocking to find that light to moderate consumption of alcohol does not seem to have a protective effect. These people are termed as ‘social drinkers’, indicating that they are not really drinking much.