Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption Damages the Brain

Studies in the UK which recently necessitated a change in guidance on alcohol consumption for the country found that there is a direct correlation between moderate to heavy drinking and degenerative brain conditions like dementia. The team of researchers from Oxford and University College London analyzed 30 years of data on over 500 men. At the start of the survey, the participants had an average age of forty-three and were not dependent upon alcohol. Researchers found that participants who had a higher alcohol intake over the course of 30 years had a higher risk of “atrophy or tissue degeneration in the hippocampus”, according to Medical News Today. The hippocampus is responsible for memory, in addition to other brain functions. Early symptoms of dementia and degenerating brain tissue include forgetfulness in both short term and long term memory.

The higher the amount of alcohol consumed by participants, the higher risk there was for degeneration in the hippocampus. Interestingly, the study also discovered that a lower level of drinking which might qualify as moderate consumption, still contributed to an atrophying hippocampus. “Compared with people who did not drink,” the article explains, “people who drank moderately showed a three times higher risk of hippocampal atrophy.” Moderate drinking was defined as 14 to 21 units of alcohol per week, according to British standards. In addition to moderate drinking being a threat, the researchers discovered that participants who drank only seven units of alcohol or less per week, considered to be light drinkers, also had a higher risk for atrophy in the hippocampus, compared to participants who were completely abstinent from drinking alcohol.

 

Other Effects Of Moderate Alcohol Consumption

People are quick to assume that problems with alcohol can only occur with extreme drinking. As the study from Britain shows, even light to moderate drinking can cause severe, life changing problems, like dementia. Alcohol consumption at any level can have a serious affect on mental as well as physical health. Alcohol raises blood pressure, for example, and heart rate as well. Heart attack, heart failure, and heart diseases are common problems for regular drinkers. Higher rates of drinking can put more pressure on the liver, compromising the liver’s ability to filter alcohol and toxins for the rest of the body. Most recently, it was published that alcohol consumption has an effect on a molecular level, damaging the telomeres, which cause the look of aging on the faces of alcoholics and people who have recently consumed large quantities of alcohol.

 

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