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posted by on Saturday June 10 2017, @04:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the sorry-ethanol-fueled dept.

Alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with increased risk of adverse brain outcomes and steeper decline in cognitive (mental) skills, finds a study published by The BMJ today.

These results support the recent reduction in alcohol guidance in the UK and raise questions about the current limits recommended in the US, say the authors.

[...] Several factors that could have influenced the results (known as confounding) were taken into account, such as age, sex, education, social class, physical and social activity, smoking, stroke risk and medical history.

After adjusting for these confounders, the researchers found that higher alcohol consumption over the 30 year study period was associated with increased risk of hippocampal atrophy -- a form of brain damage that affects memory and spatial navigation.

-- submitted from IRC

Anya Topiwala, Charlotte L Allan, et al. Moderate alcohol consumption as risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline: longitudinal cohort study. BMJ, 2017; j2353 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.j2353


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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by pTamok on Saturday June 10 2017, @09:14AM (1 child)

    by pTamok (3042) on Saturday June 10 2017, @09:14AM (#523439)

    Moderate drinking is culturally determined. From my perspective, Americans who have just one beer of an evening when they go out for 'a drink' are weird - but I grew up in a culture where going out for 'a drink' meant drinking several pints with companions. Similarly, in other countries, drinking a couple of glasses of red wine with the main meal of the day, every day, was/is quite normal. To some Americans, this is verging on being an alcoholic.

    So 'moderate' is in fact a culturally loaded term. A unit, where I am, is 10 ml of ethanol, or 8g of ethanol. I think what the paper shows is that drinking ethanol affects long-term brain health, and the more you drink the greater the effect. i would be careful not to use a culrutally loaded term like 'moderate' in this context. It makes for good headlines, but is not informative.

    However, the interesting statistic is all-cause mortality. It's all very well that you can see signs of brain dysfunction in drinkers, but if the population of drinkers, in general, lives longer than non-drinkers, then ethanol might be protective in other areas. Concentrating on one disease will skew your perceptions. Now, it turns out that the latest research appears not to be commensurate with the idea that drinking a unit of ethanol a day is better than drinking none in terms of all-cause mortality, but it is not easy research to do as there are lots of confounders.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 10 2017, @09:22PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 10 2017, @09:22PM (#523594)

    Like most the other studies; it conflicts with future studies... not corrupt ones which do get put out there; but legit work shows the complexity involved. For example, what one EATS with the alcohol will impact how it acts on the body. Somebody doing a similar study may have different results by stumbling onto populations with different eating habits. It would totally make sense that drinking by itself is harmful while eating greasy fatty foods may make it harmless... actually it cuts the grease so and in doing so might counter the damage --- if given in the proper ratios. Finding such things is extremely difficult and creating a controlled environment to test this stuff is not possible (human experimentation.)