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Last Updated: Monday, 17 March 2008, 15:08 GMT
Wine 'worse' for the brain than beer
Drinking the odd glass of wine at home or in the pub may not be as good for you as you thought it might be.

Glass of wine

Scientists say wine damages the brain more than beer affecting the hippocampus.

That is the part of the brain that deals with memory and spatial awareness.

Researchers in Germany found wine shrinks the hippocampus by as much as 10%.

They say because women usually drink more wine than beer, they are more likely to be affected.

The study found that in non-alcoholics the hippocampus was 3.85ml.

In beer drinkers it was 3.4ml and in spirit drinkers 2.9ml. Wine drinkers had the smallest of 2.8ml.

Some of the beer drinkers tested had drunk twice as much alcohol as the wine drinkers.

Controlling the brain

The hippocampus is deep in the brain's temporal lobes. They are at both sides of your head.

It controls memory, navigation, speech, hearing and spatial awareness. When it is affected by alcohol it can also cause feelings of disorientation.

Bottle and glasses of wine
36% of women in pubs drink wine, compared to only 21% of men
It could also explain why we forget what we are doing mid-task.

The researchers found that beer drinkers also had the lowest levels of a compound in the blood called homocysteine.

That is found to be linked to higher rates of heart disease and strokes.

Recent research on wine drinking suggests it has health benefits including a lower risk of heart disease, strokes and some cancers.

But alcohol has also been linked to a wide range of illnesses including an increased risk of mouth cancer, high blood pressure, ulcers and liver disease.

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