The risks of alcohol have long been known. Dr Tony Rao, Visiting Researcher at the Institute of
Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, had suggested: “there is no safe limit
for alcohol when considering overall health risks. The finding of a 7 percent higher risk of developing
any of the 23 alcohol-related disorders for people drinking an average of 17.5 units of alcohol per
week compared with non-drinkers now challenges current U.K. guidance for lower risk drinking, which
recommends no more than 14 units per week (Lancet Psychiatry, 2015 Aug;2(8):674-675. doi:
Anya Topiwala and Klaus Peter Ebmeier (Evidence Based Mental Health, 2018,
(https://ebmh.bmj.com/content/ebmental/21/1/12.full.pdf), had suggested that “Health benefits of
moderate drinking at least for cognitive function are questionable”, since “the reported protective
effects of moderate drinking were due to confounding by socioeconomic class and intelligence”.
Anya Topiwala et al, in a very recent study (doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.10.21256931)
estimated the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and brain health, by structural and
functional MRI brain measures. They found that alcohol consumption was negatively linearly
associated with global brain grey matter volume. Also, widespread negative associations were
observed with white matter microstructure and positive correlations with functional connectivity. The
authors concludes that “No safe dose of alcohol for the brain was found. Moderate consumption is
associated with more widespread adverse effects on the brain than previously recognised. Individuals
who binge drink or with high blood pressure and BMI may be more susceptible. Detrimental effects of
drinking appear to be greater than other modifiable factors. Current ‘low risk’ drinking guidelines
should be revisited to take account of brain effects”.
Recently, Sanjay Gupta, American neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN, reported:
Even at levels of low-risk drinking, he said, "there is evidence that alcohol consumption plays a
larger role in damage to the brain than previously thought. The (Oxford) study found that this role was
greater than many other modifiable risk factors, such as smoking."
As an option for action, WHO, in the line with European action plan, proposes that measures could be
taken to introduce a series of warning or information labels on all alcoholic beverage containers.
World Health Organization finding indicates that most of European citizens believe that alcoholic
beverage labels provide insufficient health-related information. Our campaign “I Care for my Brain”,
www.icareformybrain.org suggests that labelling provides a unique opportunity for governments to
disseminate health promotion messages at the points of sale and consumption. Health information
labels are an inexpensive tool that provides direct information on the risks associated with
psychoactive substance consumption.