Alcohol seems to accelerate the ageing process of the brain. In one of the largest studies to date, researchers examined brain scans of many thousands of participants. The result was clear: every gram of alcohol caused their brains to age by seven days. A glass of wine or a can of beer contains 14 grams of alcohol …

Previous studies were based on only a few subjects or on mice. In this study, more than 17,000 brain images of people were examined, one of the largest studies on this topic to date. If the subjects also smoked, the results deteriorated further.

The scientists transferred 30 percent of the brain image data into their computer, which then determined the age of the respective brain. The data sets came from people between 45 and 81 years of age.

In the next step, they compared the value that the computer had calculated with the actual age of the person in question – and with his or her information about how much he or she drank and smoked per day.

Result: The more a person drinks or smokes, the more likely it is that the brain is older than the actual age.


Primary source: Ning, K., Zhao, L., Matloff, W. et al. Association of relative brain age with tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, and genetic variants. Sci Rep 10, 10 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-56089-4

Secondary source (german)

Image by Leroy Skalstad from Pixabay