No quantity of alcohol is safe when it comes to protecting your brain

When it comes to brain health, a new study from the University of Oxford has found that there's no such thing as a safe amount of alcohol consumption. The study joins a growing body of research into alcohol and its potential impact on different aspects of health, some of which have suggested that alcohol intake guidelines may need to be revisited.

A number of past studies have looked into the impact of alcohol on brain health, and it's no secret that long-term heavy drinking is linked to brain damage. However, moderate consumption has largely been viewed as safe, at least when it comes to brain health, but this new study from Oxford challenges that.

The study, which was observational in nature, involved data on more than 25,000 middle-aged participants from the UK Biobank study. The data includes information on things like alcohol consumption at the start of the study, cognitive testing, and MRI brain scans.

The researchers linked alcohol consumption with negative impacts on global brain grey matter volume, as well as white matter microstructure. The study notes that participants who had a high BMI and high blood pressure were also at greater risk of suffering brain health harm as a result of alcohol consumption.

Of note, the researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption's impact on brain health was larger than previously believed. Binge drinking was linked to additional harm compared to those who had moderate consumption habits. Likewise, the type of alcohol — whether wine, beer, or spirits — didn't influence the outcome.