Home Doctor NewsNeurology News Even moderate drinking may not prevent brain changes and cognitive impairment

Even moderate drinking may not prevent brain changes and cognitive impairment

by Pragati Singh

According to one study, consuming seven or more units of alcohol per week is connected with greater iron levels in the brain. Iron buildup in the brain has been linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s illnesses, and it may be a contributing factor to alcohol-related cognitive loss.

There is mounting evidence that even moderate alcohol intake might be harmful to brain health. Anya Topiwala and colleagues from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom investigated the links between alcohol intake and brain iron levels.

Their 20,965 UK Biobank members revealed their personal alcohol usage, and their brains were examined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Almost 7,000 people had their livers scanned utilising MRI to determine systemic iron levels. Everyone took a series of easy tests to measure their cognitive and motor performance. The average age of the participants was 55, and 48.6 percent were female. Although 2.7 percent identified as non-drinkers, the average weekly intake was roughly 18 units, which equates to around 7 1/2 cans of beer or 6 big glasses of wine.

The researchers discovered that alcohol use of more than seven units per week was connected with indicators of increased iron in the basal ganglia, a set of brain areas associated with motor control, procedural learning, eye movement, cognition, emotion, and other functions. Iron buildup in some brain areas was linked to poor cognitive performance.

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This is the most comprehensive investigation of moderate alcohol use and iron buildup to date. Although drinking was self-reported and may be understated, it was thought to be the only realistic way to determine the consumption of such a large population. One weakness of the study is that MRI-derived assessments of brain iron are indirect representations of iron levels, which may confound other brain alterations associated with alcohol intake with changes in iron levels.

Given the frequency of moderate drinking, even little connections can have a significant influence across whole communities, and actions to limit consumption in the general population may be beneficial.

Alcohol causes iron build up in Brain

Topiwala continues, “In the largest study to date, we discovered that drinking more than 7 units of alcohol per week was connected with iron buildup in the brain. Higher brain iron levels have been associated to worse cognitive function. Iron buildup might be the cause of alcohol-related cognitive impairment.”

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