Moderate drinking is associated with pathologic findings in the brain, including hippocampal atrophy, vs no drinking, new research shows.

Higher alcohol intake also predicted faster decline in cognitive measures of lexical fluency, although not semantic fluency or word recall, researchers found.

“In this study, we found that moderate drinking, within US safe limits, was associated with multiple adverse structural brain outcomes and faster cognitive decline, rather than being protective,” lead author, Anya Topiwala, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, United Kingdom, told Medscape Medical News. No protective effect was seen with light alcohol intake.

The findings are published online June 6  in BMJ.

The results support the recent reduction in alcohol guidance in the United Kingdom and call into question the limits currently recommended in the United States, the researchers write… [more]