A new study from the University of Oxford in London has found a relationship between alcohol intake and brain health. The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, was conducted among 25,000 people in the UK. Drinking apparently created an impact on the brain’s “gray matter”—the part of the brain where information is processed. This is according to the lead author of the study, Anya Topiwala, who is a senior clinical researcher at Oxford.
The team explained to CNN that their study suggests that there is no “safe level” of drinking. Any amount taken could have an effect on the brain, most especially on people who have certain conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, or binge-drinking. They also found no evidence that the type of drink made any difference, meaning it doesn’t matter if the alcohol you drink is wine, beer, or spirits.
Topiwala reportedly told CNN: “So many people drink ‘moderately,’ and think this is either harmless or even protective.” But previous studies have also discovered that “no amount of liquor, wine or beer that is safe for your overall health.”
“We also shouldn’t forget alcohol affects all parts of the body and there are multiple health risks,” Sadie Boniface, head of research at the UK’s Institute of Alcohol Studies. Boniface is not a part of the research team.
Tony Rao, from Old Age Psychiatry at King’s College London, shared with CNN that the thing with alcohol-related brain damage is that the changes are subtle and “are immediately detectable on routine testing.” Because of this, related conditions can progress under the radar and aren’t noticed until they’ve made more noticeable effects on a person’s memory.
“Even at levels of low-risk drinking,” Rao told CNN, “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.”
Rao ended his note with an emphasis on the importance of a good diet and positive lifestyle choices: “The interaction with high blood pressure and obesity on increasing the damage done by alcohol to the brain emphasizes the wider role of diet and lifestyle in maintaining brain health,” he said.
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