Sep 14, 2020
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Research shows what even moderate drinking does to the brain

It turned out that under the influence of alcohol, the brain can decrease in volume.

Andrey Ukrainian

The liver is far from the only organ that can damage alcohol. There is a lot of evidence for its harmful effects on the brain. A new study by Finnish scientists and published in Scientific reports, showed that, in all likelihood, even moderate drinking contributes to the "shrinking" of the brain.

Few drinkers lose their brains

The study involved more than 350 people aged 39 to 45 years. Participants provided information on how often and how much they drink. It turned out that the majority consume moderate amounts of alcohol, which, according to today's perceptions, carry a low health risk. In this study, moderate consumption was defined as 14 standard drinks per week (one serving is equivalent to 10 ml of pure alcohol).

It turned out that even a moderate level of "drunkenness" is associated with a decrease in brain volume more than the age norm: this was shown by an MRI scan. In the study, the researchers compared the participants' brain sizes to those considered normal.

Is it dangerous?

In this study, the researchers did not analyze the participants' brain function. However, it is known that a decrease in the brain is usually associated with a deterioration in its function. For example, this was demonstrated by a study that found that even small doses of alcohol could shrink a part of the brain called the hippocamus. The participants who drank not only "shrank" a certain part of the brain, but also became worse in the data of cognitive tests (for memory and speed of thinking).

It is important to know that alcohol-related brain impairment can be partially reversed by stopping drinking. In one study, stopping alcohol for six weeks improved frontal lobe function, which includes thinking and regulating behavior.

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