South Africa is a country that likes its beer, but latest reports suggest Mzansi is drinking less of the golden brew. Image: Pexels/ Jess Low

Wait, what? One beer could age your brain two years, new study reveals

Love to knock back a few cold ones after work? A study shows that even one beer a day can cause your brain to age significantly.


South Africa is a country that likes its beer, but latest reports suggest Mzansi is drinking less of the golden brew. Image: Pexels/ Jess Low

A recent research study done by the University of Pennsylvania, found that drinking even a single glass of wine or one beer a day could have a significant effect on your brain’s ageing.

It is In short, knocking back the drinks today, could cause your brain to deteriorate more rapidly.

This is of course in stark contrast with the 2020 JAMA research that showed that a few drinks per week could possibly be beneficial for brain health.

The study: Alcohol consumption vs brain volume

The study is based on the data from more than 36,000 middle-aged and older adults, and focused on analysing alcohol consumption and brain volume.

According to Business Insider South Africa, the data found that the more individuals reported drinking, the stronger the association with loss of brain matter.

This is according to the paper published in Nature Communications. Each unit of alcohol, or every half a drink, added to a person’s daily average was linked to a greater loss of tissue.

“One additional drink in a day could have more of an impact than any of the previous drinks that day,” Remi Daviet, co-author of the study, said in a release as reported by the Citizen.

Parts of the brain will naturally die off from age, but skipping that last drink could save your brain from premature aging.

Alcohol consumption: Cognitive decline and ageing

According to the Citizen, the team at the University of Pennsylvania found significant reductions in overall brain volume, including gray (information processing) and white matter (connections between the different parts of the brain).

The researchers found that going from an average of zero drinks per day to one a day was associated with the equivalent of two years of ageing in a a sample of 50-year-olds. In relation, the authors noted further that going from zero drinks to four was linked to more than 10 years of brain ageing.

“The fact that we have such a large sample size allows us to find subtle patterns, even between drinking the equivalent of half a beer and one beer a day,” Gideon Nave, a corresponding author on the study and faculty member at Penn’s Wharton School, is quoted as saying in the study’s release.

Study sparks debate

The results of the study has sparked conversation on the recommended safe national alcohol guidelines.

For instance, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that women consume an average of no more than one drink per day and says that men can have two drinks a day.

But, in light of the recent findings, if kept up daily, that much drinking could indicate potential harm to the brain.

Also read: Booze as you snooze: This bizarre beer pillow brings silly dreams to life