A study by the Imperial College London, published earlier in the year, found that using even low levels of alcohol within the low-risk alcohol use guidelines can cause harm to people. The researchers concluded that there is no safe level for alcohol use.
The researchers analyzed MRI scans of more than 10,000 individuals in late middle age who consumed varying amounts of alcohol. The study found that alcohol intake was linked to,
- less grey matter in the brain;
- more fat in the liver; and
- a larger mass in the left ventricle of the heart.
Less grey matter or brain shrinkage could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. And liver fat can lead to liver disease.
The scientific evidence keeps growing, showing that there is no safe or healthy level for alcohol use.
According to the study, people who consume alcohol within the low-risk alcohol use guidelines of 14 units per week could still damage their bodies.
Recently, the Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation released updated low-risk alcohol use guidelines, advising people that if they are having alcohol to have no more than 10 units per week and no more than 4 units in one occasion.
Researchers warn that most Australians may be unknowingly consuming more alcohol than low-risk amounts. A standard unit of alcohol in Australia contains 10g of pure alcohol which translates to a 285ml full-strength beer, a 100ml glass of wine, or 30ml of spirits. Most bottles of beer and wine glasses are well above this threshold.
The recommendations developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council reiterate previous health guidelines that youth under the age of 18 years, pregnant and breastfeeding women protect their health best by staying alcohol-free.
Since human brains develop till age 25, alcohol use can affect brain development of young people. Problems with attention span, memory and decision making can result from early alcohol use. But as research shows, the damage continues as people keep consuming alcohol, affecting the ageing process, impacting the physical appearance, blood pressure, memory, and increasing risk of many diseases including cancer, liver and heart disease.