The research, published by Oxford University and reported in the Sunday Times, stated that drinking more than this could “slowly poison the brain” and lead to increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
The study argues that the recommended UK daily guidelines should be reduced from 16 grams of alcohol to just 10g, which would translate to less than one unit per day (equal to around a third of a pint of beer, or half a glass of wine).
Moderate consumption defended
However, Drinkers’ Voice, which represents people across the UK who drink moderately as part of a healthy lifestyle, has hit out at the claims.
The organisation cites “decades of research” showing that drinking in moderation (2-3 units a day for women and 3-4 units a day for men) is good for cognitive health.
"There is lot of consistent evidence showing that moderate alcohol consumption enhances cognitive function rather than impairing it, and is protective for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease,” said Drinkers’ Voice director Richard Harding.
“The evidence is drawn from epidemiological studies, animal studies, and on MRI scans of human brains published over the past 20 years. There are a number of meta-analyses, all pointing in the same general direction."
The organisation’s voluntary spokesperson Richard Jones added that the advice was at odds with UK consumer’s beliefs about alcohol consumption.
"This really jars with what I see in the real world: a greater choice, range and quality of booze available everywhere from your local pub to the supermarket, probably more than has been the case before,” he said.
“I know a lot of people have been hitting against the Dry January nonsense with 'Tryanuary,' encouraging folk to try different drinks and still go out to bars and restaurants in the toughest month of the year for pubs and clubs across the country."
Current UK health guidelines recommend that men and women should not regularly drink more than two units of alcohol a day.