A recent study suggests that men who drink more than 36 grams of alcohol daily may have increased mental decline.
Alcohol affects virtually every organ system in the body and, in high doses, may cause coma and death. It affects several neurotransmitter systems in the brain, including opiates, GABA, glutamate, serotonin, and dopamine. Increased opiate levels are thought to account for the euphoric effect of alcohol; alterations in GABA are believed to cause anxiolytic (anxiety relieving) and sedative effects.
In a new study, researchers evaluated data on 5,054 men and 2,099 women with an average age of 56 years-old from the Whitall II cohort study. Data on alcohol consumption was collected 3 times before cognitive tests throughout the study. Various cognitive functions were evaluated and summarized with a global score.
The researchers found that men, but not women, who consumed 36 grams or more of alcohol daily presented a faster decline in all evaluated cognitive functions when compared to those who consumed less. Differences in cognitive function in men who did not drink, had stopped drinking, or were light or moderate drinkers were lacking.
The authors concluded that men who drink more than 36 grams of alcohol daily may experience faster cognitive decline than those who drink less. Further research is warranted.
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