Health & Wellbeing

Low-level alcohol consumption can help clean the brain

Low-level alcohol consumption can help clean the brain
A new study provides more evidence why it's best to drink in moderation
A new study provides more evidence why it's best to drink in moderation
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A new study provides more evidence why it's best to drink in moderation
A new study provides more evidence why it's best to drink in moderation

Everyone knows that drinking to excess is bad for your health (and potentially embarrassing), but a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) indicates drinking in moderation can be good for the brain. The study found that low levels of alcohol consumption can reduce inflammation and help flush the brain of toxins, including beta amyloid and tau proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease.

"Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system," says Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at URMC and lead author of the study. "However, in this study we have shown for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health, namely it improves the brain's ability to remove waste."

In the study, the brains of mice exposed to high levels of ethanol over a long period not only exhibited cognitive and motor skill impairment, but also showed high levels of a molecular marker for inflammation. This was particularly evident in astrocytes, which are cells that play a key role in the regulation of the glymphatic system that helps flush waste products from the brain.

Nedergaard and her team were responsible for first uncovering the glymphatic system in a 2012 paper, revealing how large volumes of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) are pumped through the brain each day to forcefully carry away waste.

In this new study, the team found that in mice consuming low levels of ethanol, roughly equivalent to 2.5 drinks per day in humans, CSF moved through the brain and removed waste more efficiently when compared to the teetotaling mice control group. The control and low dose groups also performed the same in cognitive and motor tests.

"The data on the effects of alcohol on the glymphatic system seemingly matches the J-shaped model relating to the dose effects of alcohol on general health and mortality, whereby low doses of alcohol are beneficial, while excessive consumption is detrimental to overall health," says Nedergaard. "Studies have shown that low-to-moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lesser risk of dementia, while heavy drinking for many years confers an increased risk of cognitive decline. This study may help explain why this occurs. Specifically, low doses of alcohol appear to improve overall brain health."

The team's study appears in Scientific Reports.

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center

I'll drink to that!
Daniel Boguszewski
I stop drinking 18 months ago. It was the best decision of my life.
Very troubling, and equally very hard to believe. Who or what provided the funding for this study, please??? Ralph L. Seifer, Long Beach, California.
Don't tell me. Let me guess. Those researchers at URMC are drinkers. Now how did I know that? And we can guess the multi-billion dollar alcohol industry is behind this. Never once reminding, and anyone in medical school should know this, that oral ingestion of alcohol is highly carcinogenic. That means it causes cancer. And you die from it. Now, is this something you would like to be doing? Even in moderation? I have no dog in the fight. But to spend money on something that's going to kill you is almost laughable. And yes, girls, it is hard to give up once you start, isn't it? Moreso than for guys but both sexes share equally in shoving aside that which promises escape from a miserable self.
While I enjoy very much, regular moderate consumption of a Jack Daniels on the rocks or a few beers or a G&T... a mouse study does not a human study, make.
2.5 drinks per day is a "low level" of alcohol consumption? I personally do not know anyone who drinks that much, every single day. Also, what is considered "a drink"? A bottle or can of (American) beer, or a Shot glass of Vodka, which might have different levels of alcohol?
Some really silly comments here. "oral ingestion of alcohol is highly carcinogenic". In moderation? Please cite a study. You can't.
"2.5 drinks per day is low level consumption?" I usually have a beer with lunch, a glass of wine with dinner, and occasionally a second glass of wine the evening. Basically 2.5 drinks a day, and I hardly ever get a buzz, but I have great digestion and heart health.
As for the comments impugning the motivations of the study, there is no basis for that, and you probably wouldn't do that if you yourself weren't biased and hiding behind your keyboard.
Just about anything in certain moderation is good unless you're allergic to it.
btw here's your proof: (Most forms of meat, based on how they are processed, are ranked as carcinogens as well and plethora of other things they sell too)
For a moment, I thought ''low level'' meant when you were lying on the floor, under the table! However, it's been shown that, an alcoholic drink after a meal, dissolves fats in the blood stream, and helps prevent fatty deposits collecting in the arteries. The well known adage, 'everything in moderation' applies, to any poison that can be healthy in small quantities. Whats yours?
Just to be sure, the researchers had 9 drinks per day to ensure even more brain-cleanliness. LOL. (In July, I'll celebrate my 33rd sobriety birthday, Lord willin', so I won't be in on this new fad, thanks.)