Researchers have found that even people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol may have smaller brainvolume than those who do not drink. In a study published in the October issue of the Archives of Neurology, researchers conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain on 1,839 healthy people. They found that any level of alcohol consumption resulted in a reduction in brain volume. That is, the more alcohol consumption that people reported, the smaller their brain volume. People who did not drink alcohol had the greatest brain volumes. Some brain shrinkage is normal as people age; brain volume decreases about 2 percent per decade.
It is not yet clear if alcohol consumption directly shrinks brain tissue in people but this study raises some concerns that even moderate levels of alcohol use may have harmful effects on the brain.