No, a study doesn't say one drink per day will permanently shrink your brain, as viral TikTok claims

After studying thousands of brain scans, researchers say a viral TikTok video about alcohol and brain shrinkage is "sensationalist."

WASHINGTON — A video posted to TikTok by user @drdawnbantel, viewed more than 4.8 million times, claims having an average of one alcoholic drink per day will cause your brain to permanently shrink. 

But don't cancel your bottomless brunch plans just yet: one of the authors of the study the video is based on says that's a misleading conclusion. 

RELATED: Claim that hangovers get worse with age needs context

THE QUESTION

Can an average of one alcoholic drink a day shrink your brain?

OUR SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the study cited in the TikTok video did not conclude that drinking, on average, one alcoholic beverage a day will permanently shrink your brain. 

WHAT WE FOUND

Booze shrinking your brain? Not exactly, said Dr. Kranzler.

“That’s a little sensationalist,” he said.

Dr. Kranzler said that’s not what the study found; in fact, it’s not even what they were studying.

“We didn't look at people before they drank, over a period of time, and then after, which is which would be required to support that claim,” he explained.

@drdawnbantel

Btw- shrinkage is a bad thing 💀alcohol brain

♬ Forever - Labrinth

But here’s what they did find when they studied 37,000 brain scans: on average those who drank more showed a decrease in what’s called gray matter and white matter, which essentially means a lower volume of brain cells. And those cells were less organized.

But Kranzler says that doesn’t definitively point to permanent brain shrinkage.

“There is evidence from people who drink very heavily who have more obvious functional and larger decreases, that there, with abstinence, there is recovery,” he said. “Not full recovery, perhaps, but can be substantial recovery.”

RELATED: Yes, alcohol sales have increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

However, drinking can be connected with temporary dehydration of the brain, which Dr. Kranzler says is often a side effect of too much alcohol. That’s because the brain is made up of a lot of water, so he says shrinkage might occur as a result of dehydration--and could contribute to that foggy, achey feeling that could come after too many mimosas. It’s likely reversible, he says; just give yourself some time and maybe drink some water.

WUSA9 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.

Download the WUSA9 app to get breaking news, weather and important stories at your fingertips.

Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.

Sign up for the Capitol Breach email newsletter, delivering the latest breaking news and a roundup of the investigation into the Capitol Riots on January 6, 2021.

Related Stories