There are several studies looking at the effects of alcohol intake on the brain. A new study with around 11,651 participants from United Kingdom shows that each gram of alcohol consumed could lead to around a week of ageing of the brain.
The new study titled, “Association of relative brain age with tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, and genetic variants” was published in the journal Scientific Reports. The researchers gathered data from UK subjects aged between 45 and 81 years and of European ancestry. Consumption of alcohol was studied and those who consumed alcohol every day or on most days of the week had around 0.4 years or 5 months of additional brain ageing compared to those who did not. This meant that drinking regularly led to an accelerated brain ageing explained the researchers.
The team explained that each unit of alcohol contains 8 grams of alcohol. A single shot of spirit is a single unit and a pint of strong beer or a large glass of wine is considered to be three units.
Senior researchers Arthur Toga said, “The 0.4 years of difference was statistically significant. We suggest that daily or almost daily alcohol consumption can be detrimental to the brain.”
For this study, the team looked at daily alcohol use by the participants as well as the Relative Brain Age seen in MRI scans of the brain. There are two measures of the brain, wrote the researchers. One of these is the Predicted brain age or PBA. PBA is defined as the ageing of the brain that is based on its anatomical features and is calculated based on brain anatomical measurements of the entire brain. The second measure developed by these researchers is the RBA or relative brain age. They wrote that this is independent of chronological age or CA of the brain unlike PBA. They explained the RBA, “indicates if a subject’s brain has experienced accelerated or decelerated ageing compared to peers.”