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Drinking One Beer Daily Can Age Your Brain By This Much, New Study Says

You might want to steer clear if you want to protect your brain.

Drinking a beer might not seem like a big deal. As social drinking is widely accepted in our society, it's not uncommon for people to crack open a few beers at the end of the day.

But now, one recent study found that drinking just one beer daily can age your brain by two years. The study, published March 4 in the journal ​​Nature Communications, showed a small but apparent pattern: The gray and white matter volume was reduced in people who drank daily.

"According to a new study, alcohol consumption even at levels most would consider —a few beers or glasses of wine a week—may also carry risks to the brain, a press release about the study said. "An analysis of data from more than 36,000 adults, led by a team from the University of Pennsylvania, found that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption was associated with reductions in overall brain volume."

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To gain an understanding of possible connections between drinking and the brain, the team controlled for age, height, gender, smoking status, socioeconomic status, genetic ancestry, and county of residence.

The volunteer participants in the Biobank had responded to survey questions about their alcohol consumption levels, from complete abstention to an average of four or more drinks a day.

Going from zero to one drink didn't make much of a difference in brain volume, but going from one to two or two to three drinks a day was associated with reductions in both gray and white matter.

"The fact that we have such a large sample size allows us to find subtle patterns, even between drinking the equivalent of half a beer and one beer a day," says Gideon Nave, a corresponding author on the study and faculty member at Penn's Wharton School. "Having this dataset is like having a microscope or a telescope with a more powerful lens. You get a better resolution and start seeing patterns and associations you couldn't before."

For more on alcohol, check out America's Largest Grocery Chain Is Pulling This Item From Shelves Amid Backlash.

Kristen Warfield
Kristen Warfield is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz’s journalism program in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Read more about Kristen
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