The more alcohol an individual drinks, the smaller his or her total brain volume, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Neurology.
Brain volume decreases with age at an estimated rate of 1.9 percent per decade, accompanied by an increase in white matter lesions, according to background information in the article. Lower brain volumes and larger white matter lesions also occur with the progression of dementia and problems with thinking, learning and memory. Moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease; because the brain receives blood from this system, researchers have hypothesized that small amounts of alcohol may also attenuate age-related declines in brain volume.
Carol Ann Paul, M.S., of Wellesley College, Mass., and colleagues studied 1,839 adults (average age 60) who were part of the Framingham Offspring Study, which began in 1971 and includes children of the original Framingham Heart Study participants and their spouses. Between 1999 and 2001, participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a health examination. They reported the number of alcoholic drinks they consumed per week, along with their age, sex, education, height, body mass index and Framingham Stroke Risk Profile (which calculates stroke risk based on age, sex, blood pressure and other factors).
"Most participants reported low alcohol consumption, and men were more likely than women to be moderate or heavy drinkers," the authors write. "There was a significant negative linear relationship between alcohol consumption and total cerebral brain volume."
Although men were more likely to drink alcohol, the association between drinking and brain volume was stronger in women, they note. This could be due to biological factors, including women's smaller size and greater susceptibility to alcohol's effects.
"The public health effect of this study gives a clear message about the possible dangers of drinking alcohol," the authors write. "Prospective longitudinal studies are needed to confirm these results as well as to determine whether there are any functional consequences associated with increasing alcohol consumption. This study suggests that, unlike the associations with cardiovascular disease, alcohol consumption does not have any protective effect on brain volume."
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Suggestion: The EM Drive Is Getting The Appropriate Level Of Attention From The Science Community
- Animal Sex Is Spicier Than We Thought
- Multi-Meter Sea Level Rise This Century? That's Not A Consensus
- What If We Can 'Pre-Diagnose' Autism In Babies?
- Will Aspartame Critics Now Be Less Bitter?
- Bees: Activists Remain Silent While This Pollinator Killer Decimates Millions
- Bang! Meet The Highest-Energy Hadron Collision Ever Imaged!
- "With Tesla's home and office Powerwalls and the utility scale Powerpacks are fully built in Europe..."
- "2,000 contributors is not a crowd? ..."
- "Contrary to what you have written above, the SEC is not crowdsourced. See the Stanford Report:..."
- "Boob-ayCongratulations. You have made in into a select list of imbeciles: those who cannot read..."
- "Quite aside from the fact that your arithmetic is horrid, your chemistry is even worse. When a..."
- Excessive or inadequate? Confusion about medication is common
- Breast cancer in young women is rarer than media make it seem
- GE crops could save the environment, if Organic advocates let them
- No excuses to be against science now: Monsanto patent expires
- The Pendulum Swings: Prescribing Hormone Replacement Therapy 13 Years After the Women’s Health Initiative Study
- The search for new blood donors ends at the living – but why?
- How not to convince vaccine skeptics
- Even a little weekly physical activity goes a long way for seniors
- Low levels of endocrine disruptors in the environment may cause sex reversal in female frogs
- Get up for your heart health and move for your waistline
- As biodiversity declines on corn farms, pest problems grow