Drinking alcohol and reducing brain volume: What explains the link?

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Does drinking more alcohol constrict the brain, or does a smaller brain mass actually cause individuals to drink more alcohol?

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A new study confirms the connection between alcohol use and lower brain mass and suggests a shared underlying cause.

Excessive alcohol consumption carries many risks, including heart and liver problems, a higher risk of cancer and even brain damage.

Research shows a link between high alcohol intake and reduce white matter and gray matter in the brain.

So far, most experts have suggested that alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in brain volume, but is that a false conclusion?

Recently, a team of investigators from Washington University in St. Petersburg Louis, MO and Duke University in Durham, NC, conducted a study showing that alcohol may not be the culprit behind lower brain volume.

Instead, the findings indicate that both a decrease in brain volume and a higher tendency to consume alcohol can have the same underlying cause: genetic makeup.

"Our results show that the association between alcohol consumption and brain volume reduction is due to shared genetic factors," senior author Ryan Bogdan said.

"Lower brain volumes in specific areas can make a person consume more alcohol," he continued.

"This study is very impressive because it uses a variety of approaches and data analysis techniques to achieve results that all converge to the same conclusion," …



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