If drinking was a sport at the Olympics, South Africans would have probably won gold hands down. Have you ever been to a braai that hasn’t included copious amounts of ice-cold beers? Or enjoyed a weekend that hasn’t included a glass of wine from your favourite wine farm?
Well, my fellow South Africans, we have some bad news for you. According to new research around alcohol consumption and brain volume, drinking even one glass of wine or beer a day has been associated with a brain-ageing effect, as per Business Insider.
Yup, spending a day enjoying a lekker tjop en dop may cause you to lose brain tissue. While this may come as no surprise to some who have seen their friends babbling words of nonsense while being ridiculously intoxicated, previous research had suggested that a few drinks a week could actually boost word recall – not so, says the University of Pennsylvania.
Researchers from the University poured over data collected from 36 000 middle-aged and older adults who had shared health information with the UK Biobank, which included lifestyle surveys and brain scans.
Through their research, they found that individuals who reported drinking often had a stronger association with loss of brain matter. A unit of alcohol, which added to an individual’s daily average was linked to a greater loss of tissue.
“One additional drink in a day could have more of an impact than any of the previous drinks that day,” Remi Daviet, co-author of the study, said in a press release. “That means that cutting back on that final drink of the night might have a big effect in terms of brain ageing.”
It’s natural for humans to lose brain tissue as we get older. However, the study found that consuming one drink a day was associated with the equivalent of two years of ageing. This was based on a sample gathered from 50-year olds. Even more alarming is the fact that four drinks had been linked to more than 10 years of brain ageing.
So, what now?
According to the authors, the levels of alcohol consumed that have been associated with brain changes are well within the national guidelines for safe alcohol consumption, but perhaps this study should prompt a re-examination of these standards, say the authors.
The levels of alcohol consumption linked to brain changes were within national guidelines for drinking safely, and some of the study authors are prompting a second look at the standards.