Drinkers risk damage to the brain due to lack of vitamin B
Heavy drinkers risk brain damage that can affect their memory, ability to solve problems or cause problems with balance, a conference heard.
Dr Helen McMonagle of the Alcohol Forum organisation, which held yesterday's conference, said men who had 35 standard drinks a week and women who had 28 drinks a week for a year are at risk.
They can end up deficient in vitamin B because they are neglecting nutrition. "The effects vary from person to person. One study found 163 were admitted to hospitals in the north-west in 2011 suffering from brain damage due to alcohol. This is an underestimate." Nationally around 18,000 to 28,000 may be affected. She advised people who think they may have symptoms to go to see their GP.
But they should not stop drinking immediately - as this can cause seizures and impact the brain. Treatment involves giving up alcohol and having vitamin B injections. Heavy drinkers should eat foods like brown bread, cereals and baked beans which contain vitamin B.