Moderate alcohol consumption linked to decline in brain health
Review of Topiwala A, Allan C, Valkanova V et al (2017) Moderate alcohol consumption as risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline: longitudinal cohort study. BMJ. 357:j2353.
Alcohol has historically been regarded as harmless when taken in moderation. However, brain imaging studies have shown that, in older people, even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced brain total volume, increased ventricle size, and reduced grey matter in the frontal and parietal lobes.
Heavy drinking is known to be associated with Korsakoff’s syndrome, alcoholic dementia and widespread brain atrophy. Light drinking has been associated with an increase in oropharyngeal, oesophageal and breast cancer, but was previously thought to be protective against cognitive decline. This study throws doubt on this protective mechanism, suggesting that previous research was flawed because education levels and social class had not been taken into account.
Want to read more?
Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today
Save over 50% on your first three months:
- Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
- Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Older People
- RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
- NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
- Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests