Put down that cigarette and throw out the booze to save your brain for premature ageing

If smoking and drinking are a part of your daily life, then you need to know just how bad these things are for your brain.
smoking and drinking
Smoking and drinking is injurious to your brain health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
IANS Updated: 17 May 2021, 16:29 pm IST
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You don’t need us to tell you just how bad smoking and drinking is for your health. From inviting a plethora of cancers into your life to lung and liver issues–a lifestyle where alcohol and cigarettes feature prominently is injurious to health.

And if you need more proof, then read what a study in the journal Scientific Reports has to say about the effects of smoking and drinking on your brain,

Daily drinking and smoking can age your brain
The study states that heavy smoking and alcohol consumption can cause adverse effects in specific brain regions.

“Our analyses of alcohol intake frequency and relative brain age indicated that subjects who drank daily or almost daily had a significantly higher relative brain age compared to those who drank less frequently,” said study researchers from University of Southern California in the US.

For the findings, the research team used machine learning methods and MRI to identify relative brain age in 17,308 individuals aged 45 to 81 years whose data was included in the UK Biobank.

The researchers found that in 11,651 individuals for whom information on smoking habits was collected, those who smoked on most or all days had a higher relative brain age than those who smoked less frequently or not at all.

Each additional pack-year of smoking was associated with 0.03 years of increased relative brain age. A pack-year was defined as smoking a pack of cigarettes per day on average for a whole year, the study said.

In 11,600 individuals for whom information on drinking behavior was collected, those who drank alcohol on most days had a higher relative brain age than those who drank less frequently or not at all.

According to the researchers, each additional gram of alcohol consumption per day was associated with 0.02 years of increased relative brain age.

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The findings suggest that detrimental effects of smoking and drinking on brain age may occur mainly in those who smoke and drink at high frequencies and with modest increases in brain age.

“Our finding was consistent with previous studies, which showed that heavy alcohol consumption was detrimental to the brain,” the study authors wrote.

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