Just One Extra Drink a Day May Change the Brain
It's no secret that heavy drinking is linked to potential health problems, from liver damage to increased risk of cancer. But most people probably wouldn't think a nightcap every evening is much of a health threat. Now, new evidence suggests even one drink a day is linked to detectable changes in the brain, even if it's not clear whether the alcohol is causing the differences. Previous research has found that people with alcohol use disorder have structural changes in their brains compared to healthy people's brains, such as reduced gray matter and white matter volume. But those findings were in people with a history of heavy drinking, defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as more than four drinks a day for men and more than three drinks a day for women.
@shreemoyee Researchers examined functional MRI brain scans from 36,678 healthy adults, ages 40 to 69, in the United Kingdom and compared those findings to participants' weekly alcohol consumption, adjusting for differences in things like age, sex, height, socioeconomic status, and country of residence, among other factors. In line with past studies, the researchers found a negative association between alcohol consumption and gray and white matter volume. That is, as a person's alcohol intake increased, their gray matter and white matter volume decreased, getting worse the more weekly drinks they had.