Obesity induced by heavy drinking could result in brain damage and prove deadlier if alcohol has already caused degeneration of the brain cells in a person, a new study has concluded.

Researchers in the United States, who examined the findings of various types of brain scans conducted on a group of volunteers, found that people with a higher body mass index were more prone to brain damage.

The team headed Dieter J. Meyerhoff, a professor of radiology at the University of California and the San Francisco VA Medical Center, studied the brain scans on 54 men in an alcohol treatment program and compared them with the BMI, a measurement that accounts for a person's height and weight.

The results of the study, published online and in a forthcoming issue of the medical magazine Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, suggests that the body weight of a person was also a related factor in his brain health, just as his consumption of alcohol.

"This means that weight of a person also is related to brain health among those with alcoholism," Susan F. Tapert, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and director of substance abuse/mental illness in the VA San Diego Healthcare System, said in the press release.

On his part, Meyerhoff clarified that against the common belief that it is only the amount of alcohol consumed that leads to brain injury, the latest study has associated that a person's BMI too plays an important part in determining the extent of injury to the brain cells.

In previous studies, we have also shown that alcoholics who smoke cigarettes have greater brain injury than nonsmoking alcoholics. This new study suggests that a high BMI, independent of drinking and smoking, is also associated with brain injury," Meyerhoff says in a press release from the medical journal.

The latest research proves that BMI is a crucial factor while examining potential consequences of alcohol use. It could be true that the metabolic changes resulting from or causing obesity could also be harmful to the brain of those who regularly consume alcohol, the press release said.