Moderate Alcohol Consumption Can Cause Brain Shrinkage

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Moderate Alcohol Use Also Does Not Lower Risk of Stroke

As a drug and alcohol treatment center in Raleigh NC, we want to give you the news and information that you can use at home to understand the effects of what certain drugs and alcohol can do to your body and brain. During a recent study performed by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a link between low to moderate alcohol consumption and shrinking of the brain in middle-aged adults was found. Brain atrophy, or brain shrinkage, is associated with impaired learning, understanding and motor functions.

In some earlier studies, researchers had thought that low to moderate consumption of alcohol could reduce the risk of a stroke but this study contradicts those findings. That study was published in the rapid access edition of Stroke: The Journal of the American Heart Association.

Dr. Jingzhong Ding, PhD and lead author of the study, is a research associate in the Department of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health. He states "Previous studies conducted with older adults found an association between heavy drinking, brain atrophy and an increased risk for stroke. We studied a younger, middle-aged population and found that low amounts of alcohol consumption are also associated with decreases in brain size." Dr. Ding also noted "Our findings do not support the hypothesis that low or moderate alcohol intake offers any protection against cerebral abnormalities or the risk of stroke in middle-aged adults."

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The study participants consisted of 1,909 men and women, age 55 and older that were selected from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study at random. They were then categorized by their drinking habits - never drank, former drinker, occasional drinker, low drinker and moderate drinker. Dr. Ding and his colleagues then used MRI technology to measure the brains to determine brain size. Then they used the MRI to detect infarctions and white matter lesions. These are changes in the brain that are associated with an increased risk of stroke.

The study found that as alcohol consumption increases, so does the ventricular and sulcal areas of the brain. These spaces that do not contain brain tissue can be an indication of brain shrinkage. However, no consistencies between alcohol intake and the presence of infarctions, or white matter lesions, were found.

They did find that former drinkers and moderate drinkers were more likely to have an infarction compared to those who never drank. After including smoking habits, body mass and income, the researchers found no reduction in infarction associated with former or moderate drinkers. There was also no association between alcohol intake and white matter lesions found.

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Do you need a drug and alcohol treatment center in Raleigh NC? Do you, or someone you care about, have a problem with substance abuse and want to get better? Give Legacy Freedom of Raleigh a call today. We can help you live again.

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