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Brain and Mental Performance

Alcohol Can Both Benefit and Harm the Brain

16 years ago

840  0
Posted on Sep 25, 2002, 1 p.m. By Bill Freeman

Alcohol appears to be a double-edged sword when it comes to the effect it has on the brain of older people, so results of a recent study suggest. Researchers found that light, and even fairly moderate drinking, appears to protect the elderly from developing small blockages in the blood vessels of the brain known as "silent strokes", and therefore lowers their risk of stroke.

Alcohol appears to be a double-edged sword when it comes to the effect it has on the brain of older people, so results of a recent study suggest. Researchers found that light, and even fairly moderate drinking, appears to protect the elderly from developing small blockages in the blood vessels of the brain known as "silent strokes", and therefore lowers their risk of stroke. However, alcohol consumption at any level can also cause brain atrophy (shrinking of the brain) by causing damage to brain cells that results in their destruction. The researchers conclude that the complex relationship that alcohol seems to have with the brain makes it impossible to make public health recommendations on alcohol consumption, especially for the elderly.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Stroke 2001 32: 1939-1946

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