Just a few drinks will damage the brain, research shows

Even moderate drinking is bad for your brain, according to a new study that calls into question current Irish guidelines for consuming alcohol.

Alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with increased risk of adverse brain outcomes and a steeper decline in mental skills, the research published in the medical journal BMJ finds.

The results suggest Irish drinking limits, which define moderate drinking as under 17 standard drinks a week for men, may be pitched too high.

Heavy drinking is known to be associated with poor brain health, but up to now findings from studies looking at the impact of moderate drinking have been inconsistent.

Cognitive performance

In the current study, researchers from the University of Oxford and University College London looked at data on alcohol intake and cognitive performance for 550 healthy men and women over a 30-year period.