- Even moderate drinking can decrease the production of adult brain cells by as much as 40 per cent
- Long term effects included impaired memory
- Another study finds resveratrol supplements, based on red wine, may not help prevent disease
PUBLISHED: 11:27 EST, 25 October 2012 | UPDATED: 11:27 EST, 25 October 2012
Just two glasses of wine a day could be harmful to the brain, new research suggests.
Even moderate drinking can decrease the production of adult brain cells by as much as 40 per cent, researchers from Rutgers Unviersity in the US have found.
The researchers said the findings showed there is a fine line between moderate and binge drinking.
Lead author Megan Anderson said: ‘Moderate drinking can become binge drinking without the person realising it.
‘In the short term there may not be any noticeable motor skills or overall functioning problems, but in the long term this type of behaviour could have an adverse effect on learning and memory.’
Ms Anderson, a graduate fellow in the department of neuroscience and cell biology, used rats to model moderate to heavy drinking in humans.
Creating a blood alcohol level of 0.08 per cent in the rats, the legal driving limit in the US, they found this disrupted the production of brain cells.
This level of alcohol intake was not enough to impair the motor skills of the rats or prevent them from associative learning in the short-term.
But the number of nerve cells in the hippocampus of the brain were reduced by nearly 40 percent compared to those in the sober group of rodents.
This substantial decrease in brain cell numbers over time could have profound effects on the adult brain, said Ms Anderson.
That’s because these new cells communicate with other neurons to regulate brain health.
‘If this area of your brain was affected every day over many months and years, eventually you might not be able to learn how to get somewhere new or to learn something new about your life,’ said Ms Anderson.
It’s something that you might not even be aware is occurring.
The study is available online in the journal Neuroscience.
AND ‘RED-WINE’ SUPPLEMENTS MAY NOT WORK, EITHER
A dietary supplement based on red wine does not protect middle-aged women against a range of life threatening conditions, scientists have warned.
A small study in the US found the grape extract resveratrol offered absolutely no benefit to the post menopausal participants.
The researchers said there may be something else in red wine to explain why drinkers are less likely to develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses.
Sales of purified resveratrol have soared dramatically in the belief they can lower sugar and fat levels in the blood and reduce blood pressure without the downsides of alcohol.
The chemical is found in the skins of red grapes and a glass of red wine a day has been put forward as the reason for the longevity of the French despite a fat rich diet.
But a study of healthy post-menopausal women found those given an over-the-counter resveratrol supplement were no healthier than others who took a a dummy pill.
Researchers gave the 15 women 75mg of resveratrol daily, the same amount they would get from drinking eight litres of red wine, and compared their insulin sensitivity to 14 others who received a placebo.
Nutritionist Professor Samuel Klein said: ‘Resveratrol supplements have become popular because studies in cells and rodents show it can prevent or reverse certain health problems like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
‘But our data demonstrate it does not have metabolic benefits in relatively healthy, middle-aged women.’
The results were published online in the journal Cell Metabolism.