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Drinking A Pint A Night Can Age Your Brain By Two Years, Study Finds

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Drinking A Pint A Night Can Age Your Brain By Two Years, Study Finds

Knocking back just one pint of beer or glass of wine each night when you’re middle aged could age your brain by up to two years, according to a new study. The future isn’t looking bright for me, guys, I won’t lie. 

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania analysed the MRI scans of 36,000 adults to calculate brain size and then compared their alcohol intake. 

The results suggest that a 50 year old drinking just one unit a day would have a brain that six months older than if they abstained from alcohol.

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

And this link between brain ageing and alcohol got stronger when more booze was consumed, the MailOnline reports

So, middle-aged adults who had two units - which is the equivalent of a medium sized glass of wine or a pint of lower strength beer - had a brain that was two-and-a-half years older. 

If you whack the units consumed up to four a day, then that adds a whopping 10 years of ageing on to the brain. 

Researcher Professor Remi Daviet said: “Cutting back on that final drink of the night might have a big effect in terms of brain ageing.”


The new research, which was published in Nature Communications, used data from the UK biobank to track people's drinking habits. 

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

Lead author Professor Gideon Nave said: “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.


“The fact 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.”

The scientists looked at the MRI scans of people aged between 40 and 69 to see how much grey and white matter they had in the brain. The participants then answered a survey about how much they drank a day - from zero to four units. 

A selection of beers in Wetherspoon
A selection of beers in Wetherspoon

The results suggested that going from one unit a day to two would see the brain of a 50 year old age two years. 


Professor Daviet said: “There is some evidence that the effect of drinking on the brain is exponential.

“One additional drink in a day could have more of an impact than any of the previous drinks that day.”

The researchers say their findings could have some serious ramifications for national drinking guidelines. 

In the UK, the NHS recommends no more than 14 units per week.  

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Food And Drink

Claire Reid
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