Even moderate drinking can be bad for the brain

Even moderate drinking can be bad for the brain

Classified as a sedative substance, alcohol is known to depress the central nervous system (CNS) at higher doses and induce the feeling of euphoria at lower doses. Despite the severe consequences, alcohol is one of the most celebrated and popular substance of choice for all age groups. Regular drinking can lead to a range of paralyzing health issues, such as drowsiness, respiratory depression, memory loss, blackouts, hypertension, heart attack, stroke and even death in life-threatening situations.

Although people are aware of the repercussions of heavy drinking, they still perceive moderate drinking to be good for health. Some of the earlier studies have even suggested that low levels of drinking plays a vital role in protecting the brain. However, a new study challenges the above benefit of low-level of drinking.

Despite the fact that there is an increased likelihood of the occurrence of adverse consequences even at low levels of alcohol, moderate alcohol consumption has received less attention. By classifying moderate drinking as social drinking, there is a tendency among people to take drinking patterns as normal and crucial for socializing.

Key structural changes inflicted by moderate drinking on brain

With a slew of myths and misconceptions surrounding moderate drinking, the need of the hour is to assess the potential harm and dangers it causes.

In the above study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers limited their concentration to analyze the impact of moderate drinking on the cerebrum structure and memory. After considering factors like age, smoking and past accounts of mental illnesses that could impact the outcome, the brain health of 550 people was monitored from 1985 to 2015.

With over 30 years of information collected through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, researchers discovered that participants indulging in moderate drinking (five glasses of wine or four pints of beer in seven days) demonstrated a shrunken hippocampus. Since hippocampus is related to memory, emotions, learning, etc., the above-mentioned change is the brain can prove quite debilitating for the users.

While excessive drinking undoubtedly causes numerous damages to the brain, people who drink modestly are also three times at more risk of harming the right side of their hippocampus. Compared to abstinence, there is no protective effect even in the case of light drinking.

These findings are a warning for people that even moderate amount of alcohol considered normal in most cultures is dangerous. It can take a toll on one’s overall health. Since the earlier studies had a number of methodological problems and conflicting findings, their arguments do not stand true from any direction.

Killian Welch, a neuropsychiatrist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, highlighted, “these findings strengthen the argument that drinking habits many regard as normal have adverse consequences for health.” He further states that it would be now quite difficult for users to justify moderate drinking based on the argument that it is good for brain health.

No amount of alcohol is safe

Alcohol consumption, even in small proportions, is associated with a host of health issues, such as strokes, motor vehicle crashes, cancer, interaction with medications, birth defects, etc. Therefore, it is important to understand the health risks and seek professional help in order to quit alcohol. In most of the cases, users tend to steadily transition from moderate drinking to heavy drinking and eventually develop an addiction. Therefore, it is necessary to abstain from alcohol and seek excitement through other activities.

If you know anyone who is dependent on alcohol, contact the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California to know more about inpatient treatment for alcoholism in California. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online for any information regarding alcohol addiction treatment facilities in California.

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