Experts revealed that those who consume 14-to-21 drinks a week over decades are up to two to three times more likely to suffer from brain damage as compared to those who don't drink at all. Moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to atrophy in the hippocampus - a part of the brain that governs memory. They also performed more poorly on a specific verbal test, though other language functions appeared to remain unchanged.
Some of the previously conducted studies have linked moderate alcohol consumption with risks of cardiovascular ailments. "There is growing evidence that moderate alcohol intake may be a risk factor for atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disturbance in the world, but the mechanism by which alcohol may lead to atrial fibrillation is unknown," Gregory Marcus, researcher at the University of California, San Francisco was quoted by IANS.
Another recent research carried out by Tim Stockwell, director of the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria in Canada argues that it is not the drinking behaviour that influences health, rather health that influences people to drink. Moderate drinking have different effects on different people depending on a range of factors like age, present health, ailments suffered in the past, level of physical activity, sleep pattern, et cetera.
A single drink was defined as containing 10 millilitres (eight grammes) of pure alcohol -- the equivalent of a large glass of wine, a pint of five-percent beer, or a shot of spirits such as whisky or vodka. The problem arises when the alcohol consumption guidelines differ across the globe and between sexes. Moderate drinking roughly translates to as low as 14 to as much as 35 drinks a week across the world. The effect of 14-to-21 units of alcohol on the hippocampus was clearly shown by imaging technology.
"Alcohol consumption -- even at moderate levels -- is associated with adverse brain outcomes," the researchers concluded. However, experts did not uncover any "evidence of a protective effect of light drinking over abstinence on brain structure or function," a tentative conclusion of earlier research.
Because the new study was observational and not experimental, no firm conclusions could be drawn about cause and effect. The authors also acknowledged that the sample size was small. The research presses for lowered alcohol guidelines in the UK, and a need to question the current limits recommended in the United States.
Inputs from AFP