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Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol linked to higher levels of iron in brain

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Just one alcoholic drink per day can lead to a sharp decline in cognitive function and may even escalate to Alzheimer’s disease, scientists warn.

This is according to a new study published in PLOS Medicine.   

Researchers at the University of Oxford asked over 20,000 participants about their alcohol intake and followed up with brain scans. They found people who drank more than seven drinks per week had higher levels of iron circulating in their brain, specifically in the part of the brain called the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is a part of the brain that controls movement, emotion, and cognition. 

“In the largest study to date, we found drinking more than seven units of alcohol weekly is associated with iron accumulation in the brain,” study author Dr. Anya Topiwala said in a statement. “Higher levels of iron in the brain is linked to poorer cognitive performance. Iron accumulation could underlie alcohol related cognitive decline.”

Twelve ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor are considered one unit of alcohol.