Moderate Drinking May Shrink the Brain

Here is an interesting story that goes against the belief that a glass of wine or beer before dinner is good for you. Researchers found that increasing alcohol intake was associated with loss in total brain volume greater than expected from age alone. This was reported by Carol Ann Paul, of Wellesley College, and her colleagues in the October issue of the Archives of Neurology. In the cross-sectional study, women were affected more strongly than men by moderate alcohol intake averaging at one to two drinks a day. The cardiovascular benefits of low to moderate alcohol intake are thought to result from increasing blood flow rates, which would have been expected to benefit the brain also, Paul said. But rather than preventing normal age-related volume reductions, the effects of moderate drinking were closer to those of heavy drinking, which has been linked to brain atrophy and cognitive decline, the researchers noted.

Since declines in brain volume and increases in white matter lesions are associated with memory loss and worsening dementia, the effects of alcohol likely have some functional impact over time, Paul said.

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UPDATE: has more information about this story. You can find it here.

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