We’ve all been there. You finish work after a long week, and the first aisle you head to in the supermarket is the booze aisle. You need something to help you get your mind off that particular customer, or colleague. You want to forget all about the chaos and the madness of the week you just endured. So, we go to the booze aisle and pick up one, two, even three bottles of our beloved beer or wine. Whatever it is you like to drink, though, you might tell yourself that it’s a ‘healthy’ alcohol.
Sadly, the problem with such assumptions is that scientific studies often disprove our best intentions. This is the case with a recent study that suggests ANY kind of alcohol intake can lead to damage to the brain. While you might rejoice at the news the study is yet to be peer-reviewed, the research team at the University of Oxford have put together a pretty convincing argument.
In the study, they took some 25,000 UK residents and took scans of their brain. Then, they had a look at the impact that alcohol intake seems to have on our grey matter within the brain. The grey matter is the key part of the brain where we digest and then process information accordingly. According to Anya Topiwala, the lead author on the study, this is the part of the brain where the most significant impact can be spotted.
Indeed, they found that the more people drank, the less their grey matter was visible. It would clearly reduce the volume of grey matter, showing a clear between booze and brain processing power. Our brain typically reduces in terms of grey matter volume as we age, but the study was clear – alcohol was having an adverse impact.
Well, you might find that the study is enough to shake you out of a long-held enjoyment of alcohol. However, the study did note that alcohol consumption seemed to be contributing to just 0.8% of the reduction being seen. That might sound good, but the study did also find that this was the highest risk factor that we have control over.
Basically, you cannot do anything about grey matter changes due to the passing of time and ageing. But you can decide to not have that drink. So, in terms of the common risk factors we face, alcohol is one of the most powerful brain-impacting activities that we can take to that we have a choice over whether or not we participate.
Sadly, the type isn’t even the issue – it’s the alcohol content itself. The study note there are not any “safe” levels of consumption, either; any amount is worse than none. They found that whether it was a light beer, a fortified wine, or any other kind of spirit drink, the impact was the same: grey matter reduction in volume.
Many assume that a little glass of wine before bed is a good thing – sadly, this study might prove otherwise. While it might change after peer-review, the conclusions of the study aren’t exactly something to pop open a bottle of champagne over.