Alcohol and the effects on the brain

May 24, 2018

Newspapers and articles are very contradictory about the effects alcohol can have on the brain.

As with most things, alcohol in moderation does not appear to cause any significant harm to the brain. But what do people define as moderation? For some people this may be a glass of wine with a meal in the evening, for others it might be drinking a bottle of wine at the end of the week or at weekends.

What is meant by a glass of wine? The size of a wine glass has increased over the last 20 years with most holding at least twice the volume as before.

Moderate drinking is defined as not regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week and these units should be spread over three or more days. Drinking over this level regularly can lead to health problems such as fatty deposits in the liver, high blood pressure, weight gain, depression and alcohol related brain impairment.

The links between alcohol and brain damage

Studies have identified that people who have a greater alcohol consumption are more likely to show damage to an area of the brain associated with memory (hippocampus).

The strength of wine and some beers have increased over the last 20 years, so with the increase in volume and strength it is not unsurprising that more people are experiencing some of the negative effects of alcohol.

What should I do?

So should I stop drinking alcohol completely? You don’t have to give up drinking completely but if  you are regularly drinking above the recommended levels try reducing this by alternating a drink containing alcohol with a soft drink, using more of a mixer and less of a shot of alcohol or drinking low or no alcohol drinks.

For additional support and guidance on alcohol, please visit the NHS website.

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