One Drink a Day Could Shrink your Brain, Study Finds

Having even just one drink per day can shrink your brain, according a new study. A neuropsychologist explains what that means for a person's brain health.

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CLEVELAND – A new study shows that even having just one beer or glass of wine per day can shrink your brain, and it gets worse the more you drink.

So, how can that impact a person’s brain health?

“This study that looked at alcohol and brain volume didn’t look at cognition or day-to-day life function, but what we do know is that the brain shrinks in things like Alzheimer’s disease,” said Jessica Caldwell, PhD, neuropsychologist for Cleveland Clinic. “The brain shrinks in healthy aging, it’s just shrinking to a different degree. So a little bit of shrinkage may not have any signs at all or they might be mild signs.”

Dr. Caldwell was not directly involved with the study. However, she said that once the brain shrinks to a certain level, an individual may become forgetful, get lost more easily or have trouble with walking or their balance. It really just depends.

The good news is that the brain is very resilient, so if a person were to stop drinking, it could rebound to some degree.

Currently, Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than one drink per day for a woman and no more than two for a man. Dr. Caldwell said that number should be even lower if you are getting older.

“If you are aging, you should cut back on the amount of alcohol you are taking in because your body is cutting back on its ability to process in the same way, so it looks from this study to be true that we should all carefully think about how much alcohol that we’re putting in so we can maximize our brain health,” said Dr. Caldwell.

She said if you notice you are having a hard time restricting your alcohol intake, or experiencing any concerning symptoms, it’s important to consult with your physician.

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