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Moderate drinking can harm brain, study says


However, moderate drinking is significantly different, greatly reducing the health risks, and, as some studies have shown, even having some positive effects.

So these findings can not actually show whether drinkers face any greater risk of dementia, she said.

It means those who drink more than the recommended 14 units a week could be damaging their memory. All that being said, Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer's Society concludes that you shouldn't abstain from alcohol but have it within the recommended guidelines.

How was the study carried out? University of Oxford and University College London scientists studied how participants fared with regular brain function tests and an MRI.

Such shrinkage can precede symptoms of dementia.

They discovered that people who drank moderately-14 to 21 units of alcohol per week-were three times as likely to have deterioration in the right side of their hippocampus than those who abstained from alcohol. A co-author of the research study, Dr. Anya Topiwala says that it was shocking to find that light to moderate consumption of alcohol does not seem to have a protective effect.

This damage also included faster language skills decline as well as poorer white matter integrity. While those consuming over 30 units a week were at the highest risk compared with abstainers.

To study alcohol consumption in the long term, researchers looked into data acquired from 550 subjects deemed to be non-dependant on the substance.

But this can cause partners to pick up bad habits and start drinking unhealthy amounts. However, a new study is not as flattering, as moderate drinking was found to possibly tiresome mental skills with age.

"Alcohol might represent a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, and primary prevention interventions targeted to later life could be too late", researchers said. He further said that they all use rationalizations to justify persistence with behaviors not in their long-term interest.

"I would suggest these findings raise a question mark over the safety of current USA alcohol guidelines, as we found evidence of associations with multiple harmful brain outcomes in individuals drinking within these limits", she said.

While heavy drinking has previously been linked to memory problems and dementia, previous studies have suggested low levels of drinking could help protect the brain. This study indicates that moderate drinking just like heavy drinking could have harmful effects on the overall well-being of an individual.

As reported in The BMJ, the average baseline age of the participants was 43 years.

According to the study's authors from Oxford University, previous studies suggest that moderate amounts of alcohol are potentially harmless.

'The findings from research on alcohol often generate strong emotional responses, depending on people's own views, preferences and lifestyles. We can't win, dammed if we do drink and dammed if we don't.

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