Background: Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with damage to various organs, but its multi-organ effects have not been characterised across the usual range of alcohol drinking in a large general population sample. Methods: We assessed global effect sizes of alcohol consumption on quantitative magnetic resonance imaging phenotypic measures of the brain, heart, aorta, and liver of UK Biobank participants who reported drinking alcohol. Results: We found a monotonic association of higher alcohol consumption with lower normalised brain volume across the range of alcohol intakes (–1.7 ☓ 103 ± 0.76 ☓ 103 per doubling of alcohol consumption, p=3.0 ☓ 1014 ). Alcohol consumption was also associated directly with measures of left ventricular mass index and left ventricular and atrial volume indices. Liver fat increased by a mean of 0.15% per doubling of alcohol consumption. Conclusions: Our results imply that there is not a ‘safe threshold’ below which there are no toxic effects of alcohol. Current public health guidelines concerning alcohol consumption may need to be revisited.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)