It’s a brew lover’s worst nightmare: Just half a beer a day can reduce the volume of your brain and stress cognitive powers, per new research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Pennsylvania. That flies in the face of the National Institutes of Health recommendation that considers two drinks a day safe for men. What’s more, says study co-author Remi Daviet, Ph.D., the effects of alcohol on the brain rise exponentially with every additional drink.
“It’s not linear,” according to Daviet. “It gets worse the more you drink.”
To conduct their study, researchers analyzed brain MRIs for more than 36,000 people and compared them with surveys that participants filled out about their drinking habits. Researchers found that brain volume shrunk with every increasing drink, to the point that four drinks a day was equivalent to aging the brain by 10 years.
Worried, but not ready to give up your nightcap any time soon? It’s worth noting, says Daviet, that brain changes after just one unit of alcohol are minor—it’s when you start piling cocktail on top of cocktail that the real damage begins. Translation: Pour yourself a cold one and sip slowly. You’ll want to make this brewski last the night.