Read highly cited new research from the BMJ that moderate alcohol consumption is risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline. Objectives included to investigate whether moderate alcohol consumption has a favourable or adverse association or no association with brain structure and function. The research design was an observational cohort study with weekly alcohol intake and cognitive performance measured repeatedly over 30 years (1985-2015). The conclusions were that alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with adverse brain outcomes including hippocampal atrophy. Critically, these results support the recent reduction in alcohol guidance in the UK and question the current limits recommended in the US.
This story has been picked up by the world’s media, all presenting it with their own spin. This blog prefers to cite the original research from the peer reviewed scientific paper. Don’t try to read and comprehend every word of the study. Speed read it and focus on the parts that are most significant parts. As a trained researcher, with a doctorate, I fully endorse the integrity of this study. Most importantly, this is a longitudinal study, i.e. looking at results over an extended time period – this is very powerful.
Sadly, regular drinkers will probably laugh at the latest research and carry on as before.
However, I believe there are wider social and economic implications. Based upon the overwhelming evidence in this study, social drinkers are a clear burden on society.
This leads me to an open question:
Based upon latest research, linking moderate alcohol consumption to adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline, should government policy introduce:
Penal rates of tax on alcohol?
Modify public healthcare policy to include exclusions and charges for patients who consume alcohol?