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Study: Even Small Drinking Alcohol Can Cause Brain Damage


Alcohol was the leading risk factor for illness and premature death in men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide in 2016, accounting for nearly one in 10 deaths, according to a study published in The Lancet in 2018.

“While we can’t say for sure whether ‘there is no’ safe ‘level of alcohol in relation to brain health at this time, it has been known for decades that drinking alcohol is bad for brain health,” said Sadie Boniface, head of research at the British Institute of Alcohol Studies.

“We also shouldn’t forget that alcohol affects all parts of the body and there are many health risks,” said Boniface, who was not associated with the Oxford University study.

Tony Rao, a clinical researcher in Old Age Psychiatry at King’s College London, told CNN that given the large sample size, it is unlikely that the study’s findings emerged by chance because of their role in damaging the structure and function of the human brain.

“Previous research has found that subtle changes suggestive of damage to the brain can appear in ways that are not readily detectable on routine testing of intellectual function and can develop uncontrollably until those changes appear with more pronounced memory changes,” he said.

“Even at low risk drinking levels,” he says, “there is evidence that alcohol consumption plays a greater role in brain damage than previously thought. The (Oxford) study found that this role was greater than many other modifiable risk factors, like smoking. “

The interaction with high blood pressure and obesity in increasing damage done by alcohol to the brain emphasizes the broader role of diet and lifestyle in maintaining brain health, he added.

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Reporter: Lianna Leticia

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