Heavy drinking can lead to a number of serious health problems, including increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and dementia, but consuming even moderate levels of alcohol could be dangerous, as well, new research suggests.
The study, published in The BMJ, finds that moderate drinkers were three times more likely to experience a decline in mental skills than people who drank no alcohol at all.
For the study, researchers analyzed data on weekly alcohol intake in 550 healthy British men and women over a period of 30 years. The participants had an average age of 43 at the start of the study in 1985 and none were alcohol dependent.
They were given brain function tests at regular intervals, and during the last three years of the study participants underwent an MRI brain scan.