Beware, extra peg or two can leave you with smaller brain

October 14th, 2008 - 1:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 14 (IANS) The more you drink, the smaller the size of your total brain volume, according to latest research. This is particularly true of women.Although men were more likely to drink alcohol, the linkage between drinking and brain volume was found to be stronger in women. This could be due to biological factors, including women’s smaller size and greater susceptibility to the effects of alcohol.

Carol Ann Paul of Wellesley College and her colleagues studied 1,839 adults (average age 60), who were part of the Framingham Offspring Study which began in 1971, according to an American Medical Assocation release.

Between 1999 and 2001, participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a health examination. They reported the number of alcoholic drinks they consumed per week, along with their age, sex, education, height, body mass index and Framingham Stroke Risk Profile (which calculates stroke risk based on age, sex, blood pressure and other factors).

“Most participants reported low alcohol consumption, and men were more likely than women to be moderate or heavy drinkers,” the authors wrote.

“There was a significant negative linear relationship between alcohol consumption and total cerebral brain volume,” said Paul.

“The public health effect of this study gives a clear message about the possible dangers of drinking alcohol… This study suggests that, unlike the associations with cardiovascular disease, alcohol consumption does not have any protective effect on brain volume,” the authors of the study wrote.

Moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease; because the brain receives blood from this system, researchers hypothesised that small amounts of alcohol may also decrease age-related declines in brain volume.

Brain volume decreases with age at 1.9 percent per decade, accompanied by an increase in white matter lesions.

These findings have been reported in the October issue of Archives of Neurology.

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