Although there is a consensus in the medical literature that heavy alcohol consumption causes brain atrophy, loss of neurons and white matter tracts, the consequences of moderate consumption of legal narcotics are still controversial. Earlier this month, a new study published in the journal Nature Communication presents a unified view that the consumption of alcohol, although at levels considered modest by social norms – like half a dozen beers or glasses of wine a week – is negatively associated with damage to the macro and microstructure of the brain.
Alcohol and brain aging
To prove their hypothesis, scientists led by a team from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed MRI scans from 36,678 patients stored in the Biobank database from the United Kingdom. The parameters used were units of alcohol (about half a beer) or two units (a pint of beer, or about 600 ml). In Brazil, a can of beer usually contains 350 ml of drink. To illustrate the impact of alcohol on the brain, scientists compared reductions in the organ with those that occur with aging. Thus, going from one daily unit to two causes a change equivalent to aging two years, from two to three, aging three and a half years, but the difference between zero and four drinks was greater than 10 years of brain aging.
ITEM Communication Nature – DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28735-5.