A new study finds that even moderate alcohol drinking leads to a raised risk of faster decline in brain health and mental function. The researchers state that the results they have reached promote the United Kingdom’s recent restriction guidance on alcohol and question the restrictions set by the United States.
The study – by the University of Oxford and University College London, both in the U.K. – is issued in the BMJ.
Drinking alcohol is labelled as a global public health issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “5.1 percent of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol.”
In 2010, the World Health Assembly prompted countries to call shots to “strengthen national responses to public health problems caused by the harmful use of alcohol.”
The U.K. government recently set their guidance limits on drinking alcohol after the discovery of new evidence that demonstrates that even moderate drinking leads to cancer.
They pass the notion that men and women “are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level” across. This amount of alcohol equals wine contained in 4 pints of strong beer or 5 large glasses of 14 percent wine.
Nonetheless, the researchers who considered the new study stated that the U.S. guidelines permit a higher limit for men of 24.5 units per week.
Risks of hippocampal atrophy
Alcohol consumers whose alcohol intake is more than 30 units per week were subjected to the highest risk of hippocampal atrophy. The results also indicated that even moderate alcohol consumption, which is between14 to 21 units per week, caused atrophy as well.
People who drank moderately are subjected to a three time higher risk of hippocampal atrophy compared to those who are always sober.
In an editorial comment about the discovery, Killian Welch, a consultant neuropsychiatrist from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in the U.K., states that they promote the “argument that drinking habits many regard as normal have adverse consequences for health.”
“With publication of this paper. Justification of ‘moderate’ drinking on the grounds of brain health becomes a little harder,” he adds.
The authors of the study paper conclude:
“Our findings support the recent reduction in U.K. safe limits and call into question the current U.S. guidelines, which suggest that up to 24.5 units a week is safe for men, as we found increased odds of hippocampal atrophy at just 14-21 units a week, and we found no support for a protective effect of light consumption on brain structure.”