Brain shrinkage is a normal symptom of aging, but scientists warn that even moderate drinking of your favorite alcoholic beverage can cause brain volume reduction that would naturally occur after two years of aging.
CDC defines moderate alcohol intake as one drink per day for women and a maximum of two for men. Unfortunately, this dosage is more than enough to accelerate brain shrinking and cause the decline of numerous cognitive functions along the way, especially in the absence of a healthy diet.
A recent UK study suggests that increased drinking does trigger severe brain shrinkage. The participants of the study were asked to do an MRI scan and answer questions about their alcohol consumption. It was established that any slight increase in drinking habits induced brain volume reduction, while heavy alcohol intake even resulted in over a decade of brain aging.
Heavy drinking has long been associated with cognitive decline, but there were assumptions as to the positive health implications of moderate drinking in older adults. The current study refutes these previously assumed health benefits of moderate alcohol intake.
A shortcoming of this study is the fact that the participant consumption data is limited to a year prior to the MRI scans. In addition, the negative effects of low alcohol intake on brain size are insufficiently substantiated.
There is potential for a more extensive study that would involve monitoring not only the effects of average consumption but also the effects of abstinence or decreased intake on brain size.