No Amount of Drinking Alcohol Is Safe for Brain Health
While most people believe that an occasional drink won’t do them any harm, there are actually a number of ramifications for mental and physical health that can come out of any amount of alcohol consumption. A recent, extensive study of alcohol consumption has confirmed that there is no safe level of alcohol for brain health.
Effects on the Brain’s Gray Matter
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford that involved over 25,000 individuals concluded that there is no safe dose of alcohol for the brain. Scans of the study participants revealed that their drinking, regardless of the amount they consumed, had a negative effect on their brain’s gray matter.
Negatively Associated with Brain Health
The researchers stated that the consumption of alcohol was “linearly and negatively associated with indices of brain health across most of the brain.” Even moderate consumption was associated with adverse effects on the brain, and those who binge drink may be more susceptible to alcohol’s effects.
The researchers advised that the current “low risk” drinking guidelines should be revisited. Adverse effects of alcohol on the brain were no different in study participants who consumed wine, beer, or liquor, indicating that the type of alcohol was not a factor in the negative impact on brain health.
Individuals at Higher Risk
Although all study participants who consumed alcohol in any amount were found to have impacted brain health, certain individuals were at higher risk. Those with characteristics such as obesity, high blood pressure, or binge drinking were more affected. Tony Rao, a visiting clinical fellow in Old Age Psychiatry at King’s College London, stated that “Even at levels of low-risk drinking, there is evidence that alcohol consumption plays a larger role in damage to the brain than previously thought. The (Oxford) study found that this role was greater than many other modifiable risk factors, such as smoking.”
This most recent research study confirms the findings of a previous study that also determined that no amount of wine, beer, or liquor is safe for overall health. In an analysis of 2016 global alcohol consumption and disease risk, published in The Lancet in 2018, researchers also found that even small amounts of alcohol affected the physical and mental health of the individuals who consumed it.
In the 2018 study, it was reported that alcohol was the leading risk factor for disease and premature death worldwide in women and men between 15 and 49. Alcohol accounted for almost one in 10 deaths, the report stated. Alcohol-related deaths included cardiovascular diseases and cancer, as well as infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, intentional injury related to alcohol consumption including self-harm and violence, and unintentional injuries resulting from alcohol consumption, including fires and drowning.
That study’s senior author Emmanueal Gakidou, a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said, “The most surprising finding was that even small amounts of alcohol use contribute to health loss globally. We’re used to hearing that a drink or two a day is fine. But the best way to keep healthy is never to touch a drop.”
1. ramification n. （尤指最初并不明显的）后果
2. gray matter 头脑；智力；脑部和脊椎的灰色神经组织
3. linearly adj. 成直线地；在线上地
4. index n. 指数
5. binge drink 酗酒；豪饮
6. modifiable adj. 可修饰的；可更改的
7. premature death 过早死亡；早逝
8. cardiovascular adj. 心血管的
9. tuberculosis n. 肺结核；结核病