Even moderate drinking can be bad for you...

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like the weather today won't be quite as bad as they were predicting-there's a chance of rain later in the afternoon, but it'll just be cloudy for most of the day and then it's expected to be a mix of rain or clouds for the rest of the week with daytime highs ranging between 26C and 29C.

Even moderate drinking is linked to brain damage and a slight decline in mental skills, according to a study released Wednesday that calls into question many national alcohol guidelines.

Men and women who consume 14-to-21 drinks a week over decades are two to three times more likely than non-drinkers to show atrophy in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that governs memory and the ability to keep one's bearings, said the study, published in the medical journal BMJ.

They also performed more poorly on a specific verbal test, though other language functions appeared to remain unchanged.

A single drink was defined as containing 10 milliliters (eight grams) of pure alcohol -- the equivalent of a large glass of wine, a pint of 5% beer, or a shot of spirits such as whisky or vodka.

Last year, the British government revised its guidelines for alcohol consumption, lowering the recommended maximum for men and women to 14 "units," or drinks, spread out over a week.

In other countries, that threshold is set higher for men: 35 units in Spain, 24.5 in the United States, 21 in Denmark and Ireland, and 19 in New Zealand.

For women, however, guidelines for maximum weekly consumption in all of these nations, except for Spain, is 14 drinks or less. Wondering what the guidelines are in Japan? Well, the government recommends the same as in Spain for men (that's 5 drinks per day over 7 days) and for women about half that-about 18 drinks per week or 2.5 per day.

The negative impact of heavy drinking on the brain is well documented, but research on potential damage from "moderate" consumption -- up to now defined as two or three drinks a day, on average -- has been scant and inconclusive.

To probe further, researchers at the University of Oxford and University College London combed through data on 550 men and women monitored during 30 years as part of the so-called Whitehall II study.

Volunteers reported periodically on their drinking habits, and scientists carried out brain tests at regular intervals. None were alcoholics at the outset.

The effect of 14-to-21 units of alcohol on the hippocampus was clearly shown by imaging technology.

Mental performance tests were less conclusive: only one measuring language fluency showed a clear impact, while others showed no decline in brain function.

"Alcohol consumption -- even at moderate levels -- is associated with adverse brain outcomes," the researchers concluded.

The findings "support the recent reduction in alcohol guidance in the United Kingdom, and question the current limits recommended in the United States," they wrote.

Call me a prude, but 5 drinks per day doesn't sound 'moderate' to me...does it seem 'moderate' to you? I'd think 2 drinks per day would be moderate with an extra one or two per day on the weekends. I have about 5-6 drinks per month! I should be ok...ha ha!

Have a great day!

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