In a new study conducted on nearly 2,000 men and women, age 55 and older researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to determine their brain size, infarcts and white matter lesions, which are changes in the brain correlated with the risk of stroke and to study if a link existed between low to moderate alcohol consumption and a decrease in brain size of middle-aged adults.
As alcohol consumption increased, the MRI identified increases in the spaces that do not contain brain tissue -- an indication of brain deterioration. However, no consistent link was found between alcohol intake and infarctions or white matter lesions.
Researchers of the study, say they studied a younger, middle-aged population and found that low amounts of alcohol consumption are also associated with decreases in brain size. They say their findings do not support the hypothesis that low or moderate alcohol intake offers any protection against cerebral abnormalities or the risk of stroke in middle-aged adults.
However researchers say it is difficult to determine a casual relationship between alcohol consumption and brain atrophy because MRI measures in the brain were only conducted once during follow up.