So my marathon training is well under way again… Yesterday I was doing lactate threshold runs… Phew, they do make you want to have a rosey-cheeked lie down afterwards… As well as my mid-tempo runs, fast interval days and my weekly long run… There is lots going on for my body…
As I am also working so much at the moment, with training courses at weekends (latest diploma starts tomorrow), my daily practice, my online business and attempting to have a social life of some kind, I have had a period of time where I have not been drinking alcohol… Not at all…
The reason I am telling you this today?
New research shows that all you need to do is have two drinks (or more) a day and, voila!, honey you’ve shrunk your brain.
Let me explain in some detail…
Some people may think my brain needs shrinking… I have a big head and my big head is housing my big brain… By not drinking at the moment, my brain is staying that way…
This is the news released recently by a study of about 2000 adults: teetotalers have bigger brains (in volume) than either light drinkers or heavy drinkers, while the brains of heavy drinkers are smaller. Before you and your shrunken brain pour that bottle of pinot grigio down the drain, and retreat to the kitchen for a mug of peppermint tea, consider this: doctors have long known that heavy drinking can contribute to dementia.
One of my favorite brain illustrations shows two brains, side by side. They both have a lot of cerebral spinal fluid between the cortex and the skull, and they both have a lot of that same fluid in the ventricles — these are basically the brain’s waste-water facility, the plumbing if you like.
Through the eyes of any usual person, the brains look identical, and if you were to have met their owners when they were still alive, they very well might have behaved in a similar way because both were demented. Only the one on the right had Alzheimer’s, while the one on the left was suffering from alcohol-induced dementia. In my opinion, these pictures should be part of the standard health curriculum at every secondary school in the country.
Anyway… What’s new about the study just published in the October issue of the Archives of Neurology is that it seems to be showing an effect at moderate levels of alcohol consumption, the very moderate levels that we’ve been told are good for our heart.
Heck, don’t give up that glass of wine with dinner just yet. First of all, the amount of brain shrinkage reported by the researcher isn’t great — about 1.5% difference between for those who drink heavily and those who don’t drink at all. While it’s possible that that degree of difference will turn out to be significant, that remains to be seen.
The alcohol-shrinks-your-brain theme is good for grabbing headlines, but right now it’s just an interesting “finding.” The cases of bubbly, Rioja and the barrel of Ringwoods Ale ordered for Christmas will be consumed in my home, yes indeed. But then again, I do have a very big brain in the first instance… I am not scared of it shrinking a bit… 😉
That could explain the rattling sound coming from my head as I walk!
Also, according to new research from the Know Your Limits campaign, compared to women who don’t drink it is estimated that
Women who drink one large glass of wine a day (3 units) increase their risk of breast cancer by about one fifth
Women who drink two large glasses of wine a day (6 units) increase their risk of breast cancer by over a third
Women who drink three large glasses of wine a day (9 units) increase their risk of breast cancer by over 50%
So women not only run the risk of smaller brains but they also increase the risk of serious illness.
Ha! Andrew, you may have to stop drinking now… I don’t want to be calling you a pea-brain for reasons other than in jest!
Angela… Sobering thoughts… (See what I did there?)… Maybe with a smaller brain, you might not notice the other side effects…. Hmmm…
Thank you both 🙂