The clinical implications of alcohol consumption have been extensively examined; however, its effects on brain structures in apparently healthy community-dwellers remain unclear. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between alcohol consumption and brain gray matter volume (GMV) in community-dwelling Japanese men using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). We recruited cognitively intact Japanese men, aged 40–79 years, from a population-based cohort in Shiga, Japan. Brain magnetic resonance imaging was performed, on average, 2 years after demographic and medical information was obtained in 2010–2014. A multivariable linear regression analysis of 639 men was conducted to elucidate the relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and GMV. VBM statistics were analyzed by threshold-free cluster enhancement with a family-wise error rate of <0.05. The results obtained demonstrated that the amount of alcohol consumed was associated with lower GMV. The VBM analysis showed lower GMV within the parahippocampal, entorhinal, cingulate, insular, temporal, and frontal cortices and cerebellum in very heavy drinkers (≥42 ethanol g/day) than in non-drinkers. Furthermore, alcohol consumption was associated with a higher white matter lesion volume. These results suggest subclinical structural changes similar to alcohol-related neurological diseases.
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