Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol shrinks your brain

May 02, 2007

BOSTON - Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol over a long period of time may decrease brain volume, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 28 - May 5, 2007.

The study involved MRI scans of 1,839 people from the Framingham Offspring study, ages 34 to 88, who were classified as non-drinkers, former drinkers, low drinkers (one to seven drinks per week), moderate drinkers (eight to 14 drinks per week), or high drinkers (more than 14 drinks per week). MRI scans were performed and used to measure brain volume, which can be thought of as a measure of brain aging.

The study found the more alcohol people drink on a regular basis, the lower their brain volume.

"Research has shown that there is a beneficial effect of alcohol in reducing incidence of cardiovascular disease in people who consume low to moderate amounts of alcohol. However, this study found that greater alcohol consumption was negatively correlated with brain volume," said study author Carol Ann Paul, MS, of Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA.

This cross-sectional study found people who had more than 14 drinks per week had an average 1.6 percent reduction in the ratio of brain volume to skull size compared to people who didn't drink. In other words, brain volume decreased .25 percent on average for every increase in drinking category (i.e. non-drinkers, former drinkers, low drinkers, moderate drinkers, or high drinkers).

In addition, Paul reported the inverse relationship between drinking and brain volume was slightly larger in women than in men. Also, drinking heavy amounts of alcohol seemed to have the biggest negative impact on brain volume for women in their 70s.

In looking at the longitudinal effects of drinking, people who had a 12-year history of heavy drinking had less brain volume than those who changed into the high drinking group during those 12 years. Researchers are following up on these findings to make sure these differences hold up.
-end-
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of over 20,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and stroke. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.

Editor's Note: Paul will present this research during a scientific poster session at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2, 2007, in Exhibit Hall A of the Hynes Convention Center.

She will be available for media questions during a briefing at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 1, 2007, in the on-site Press Interview Room, room HCC 204. All listed times are for Eastern Time (ET).

If you are a member of the media interested in listening to the press briefing via conference call, please call the AAN Press Room (April 28 - May 4) at (617) 954-3126.

American Academy of Neurology

Related Alcohol Articles from Brightsurf:

Alcohol use changed right after COVID-19 lockdown
One in four adults reported a change in alcohol use almost immediately after stay-at-home orders were issued: 14% reported drinking more alcohol and reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not drink and those whose use stayed the same.

Changes in hospitalizations for alcohol use disorder in US
Changes over nearly two decades in the rate of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths from alcohol use disorder in the US were examined in this study.

Associations of alcohol consumption, alcohol-induced passing out with risk of dementia
The risk of future dementia associated with overall alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced loss of consciousness in a population of current drinkers was examined in this observational study with more than 131,000 adults.

New alcohol genes uncovered
Do you have what is known as problematic alcohol use?

Does estrogen influence alcohol use disorder?
A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that high estrogen levels may make alcohol more rewarding to female mice.

Sobering new data on drinking and driving: 15% of US alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol under the legal limit
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit of 0.08 percent accounted for 15% of alcohol-involved crash deaths in the United States.

Alcohol-induced deaths in US
National vital statistics data from 2000 to 2016 were used to examine how rates of alcohol-induced deaths (defined as those deaths due to alcohol consumption that could be avoided if alcohol weren't involved) have changed in the US and to compare the results by demographic groups including sex, race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Cuts in alcohol duty linked to 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England
Government cuts to alcohol taxes have had dramatic consequences for public health, including nearly 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012, according to new research from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

Integrated stepped alcohol treatment for people in HIV care improves both HIV & alcohol outcomes
Increasing the intensity of treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time improves alcohol-related outcomes among people with HIV, according to new clinical research supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet:Targets to reduce harmful alcohol use are likely to be missed as global alcohol intake increases
Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use, according to a study of 189 countries' alcohol intake between 1990-2017 and estimated intake up to 2030, published in The Lancet.

Read More: Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.