A glass of wine after a long day can’t be too bad for you…right? Unfortunately, it seems like it can be. A new study has found that even moderate alcohol intake can shrink a person’s brain size.
The study, which was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania researchers and published in peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications in March, studied the MRIs of more than 36,000 middle-aged adults in the United Kingdom. It found that alcohol can cause a more pronounced decline in brain volume, leading to faster memory loss and other brain functions.
On average, for a 50-year-old, increasing drinking from one unit of alcohol a day to two a day is associated with brain volume decline equivalent to two years of ageing.
Those who drink slightly more fared worse: the average 50-year-old who increased their alcohol consumption from two to three units a day saw the effects of three-and-a-half years of ageing.
For non-drinkers who began drinking one unit a day, their brains showed the equivalent of half a year of ageing.
Meanwhile, those who drank four units a day were shown to have aged a whopping ten years in the brain.
One unit of alcohol is the equivalent of half a pint of beer, or a single small shot of spirits.
The Hong Kong government does not currently offer guidance on alcohol consumption limits. A survey on health behaviour in 2018 and 2019 published by the Department of Health found that nearly 9 per cent of residents aged 15 years old or above drank alcoholic beverages at least once a week.