All Alcohol Consumption Is Harmful To The Brain, Study Finds

by : Julia Banim on : 19 May 2021 12:05
All Alcohol Consumption Is Harmful To The Brain, Study FindsPixabay

A new study has found all alcohol consumption can be harmful to the brain, with even moderate drinking having adverse effects on a person’s brain health.

The study involved more than 25,000 participants, but is yet to be peer reviewed. Those behind it suggested the revision of current ‘low-risk’ drinking guidelines, asserting that there is ‘no safe dose of alcohol for the brain’.


It was previously believed that just specific areas of the brain were affected by alcohol. However, this study suggests the entire brain can be impacted, with lead author, Anya Topiwala telling The Guardian, ‘There’s no threshold drinking for harm – any alcohol is worse’.

Glass of wine and a bottle (PxHere)PxHere (CC0 1.0)

Topiwala, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Oxford, and other scientists examined the health profiles of 25,378 people from the UK Biobank. This database was created specifically to help researchers understand connections between diseases and genetic or environmental factors.

According to the findings:


No safe dose of alcohol for the brain was found. Moderate consumption is associated with more widespread adverse effects on the brain than previously recognised.

Individuals who binge drink or with high blood pressure and BMI may be more susceptible. Detrimental effects of drinking appear to be greater than other modifiable factors. Current ‘low risk’ drinking guidelines should be revisited to take account of brain effects.

According to Drinkaware, UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) currently advise against regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

If you want to discuss any issues relating to alcohol in confidence, contact Drinkline on 0300 123 1110, 9am–8pm weekdays and 11am–4pm weekends for advice and support.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Health, brain, Drink


UK Biobank and 1 other
  1. UK Biobank

    No safe level of alcohol consumption for brain health: observational cohort study of 25,378 UK Biobank participants

  2. The Guardian

    Any amount of alcohol consumption harmful to the brain, finds study