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Alcohol: 1 drink/day linked to brain damage due to iron


Consuming seven or more units of alcohol per week is associated with higher iron levels in the brain, according to a study published in July 2022 in the journal PLOS Medicine. (What is a standard drink of alcohol?)

This iron buildup has been linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and is a potential mechanism for alcohol-related cognitive decline.“, reads the press release from the researchers.

There is growing evidence that even moderate alcohol consumption can negatively impact brain health.»

Anya Topiwala, from the University of Oxford (UK), and her colleagues (1) studied the relationships between alcohol consumption and brain iron levels in 20,965 participants of the UK Biobank who reported their alcohol consumption and whose brains were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They also took a series of tests to assess cognitive and motor function at the time of the scan and about 6 years later. Nearly 7,000 of them also underwent MRI liver imaging to assess systemic iron levels.

The average age of the participants was 55 years old and 48.6% were women. While 2.7% of them were non-drinkers, the average consumption was around 18 units per week, which corresponds to 6 large glasses of wine.

Consuming more than seven units was associated with higher markers of iron in the basal ganglia, a group of brain regions associated with motor movement control, procedural learning, eye movements, cognition, and more. to emotions. Iron accumulation in certain regions of the brain was associated with poorer cognitive performance.

For more information on alcohol and health, see the links below.

(1) Chaoyue Wang, Klaus P. Ebmeier, Stephen Burgess, Steven Bell, Daniel F. Levey, Hang Zhou, Celeste McCracken, Adriana Roca-Fernández, Steffen E. Petersen, Betty Raman, Masud Husain, Joel Gelernter, Karla L. Miller, Stephen M. Smith Thomas E. Nichols.

Psychomedia with sources: PLOS, PLOS Medicine.
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