Health & Medicine

Moderate Drinking Could Lead To Cognitive Decline, A New Study Says

Elaine Hannah
First Posted: Jun 08, 2017 05:39 AM EDT
ABC 2 News - WMAR/YouTube screenshot

Moderate drinkers could experience cognitive decline compared to people who drink no alcohol at all, according to a new study. This study indicates that moderate drinking just like heavy drinking could have harmful effects on the overall well-being of an individual.

The study was printed in The BMJ. It was led by researchers from the University of Oxford and the University College London, according to CBC News.

The 1985 study was participated by 550 healthy British men and women on the average age of 43. The scientists have examined and analyzed their weekly alcohol intake for more than 30 years. None of them were alcohol dependent. They were also given brain function tests at regular intervals. They also underwent an MRI brain scan during the last three years of the study.

The scientists discovered that participants who drank more than 30 units a week on average had a greater risk, and those moderate drinkers were far more likely than abstainers to have a hippocampal atrophy, which is a form of brain damage that affects the memory and spatial navigation. They added that they also found no support for a protective effect of light consumption on brain structure.

The moderate drinkers drank between 14 and 21 units a week. A unit is about 10 milliliters (mL) of pure alcohol. The U.S. guidelines recommended 24.5 units of alcohol a week as safe for men. On the other hand, with this new study taking just 14 to 21 units a week could have an effect on the brain structure of an individual.

Killian Welch, a neuropsychiatrist from Royal Edinburgh Hospital, said that this new study underlined the argument that drinking habits many regard as normal have a harmful effect on health. He further said that they all use rationalizations to justify persistence with behaviors not in their long-term interest. He added that with these results, justification of moderate drinking regarding brain health becomes a little harder, as CBS News noted.

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