Most people think that drinking too much alcohol damages the liver. This is true, but the primary damage is to the brain. And you don’t have to be an alcoholic. A 2017 study in the British Medical Journal concluded that “drinking habits many regard as normal have adverse consequences for health.” Even moderate drinking causes changes in the brain resulting in poorer “white matter integrity,” a critical factor in cognitive functioning.
In this 30-year study, brain function and cognitive performance tests were carried out at regular intervals over the 30 year period. The study concluded that consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol can cause changes in brain structure that can impair brain function. The researchers found that the higher the alcohol consumption the higher the risk of brain function decline. People who drank more than 300 milliliters of alcohol per week had the highest risk. Surprisingly, consuming as little as 140 to 200 milliliters of alcohol per week increased the risk of brain structure changes. As a practical matter, this translates into as little as ten large beers, two bottles of wine, and fourteen shots of spirits per week.
Given the findings in this study, it would be best to limit alcohol consumption to below the lower threshold that appears to cause problems. Health is a choice and we make that choice every time we choose what to eat or drink.