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Does Drinking Kill Brain Cells?
Mental Floss ^ | February 26, 2013 | Matt Soniak

Posted on 04/02/2013 10:43:20 PM PDT by Slings and Arrows

Reader Scott wrote in to ask, “Does alcohol kill brain cells?”

Oh, Lisa, you and your stories. ‘Bart is a vampire.’ ‘Beer kills brain cells.’ Now let’s go back to that…building…thingy, where our beds and TV…is.” - Homer Simpson

Watch someone after they’ve had a few drinks, and you’ll find evidence that alcohol does something to their brain. They stumble, slur their words, lose control of their emotions, and forget things. 

Some people have tried to explain this behavior as the aftermath of cell death caused by alcohol. Often, it’s packaged as a neat factoid like “Three beers kill 10,000 brain cells.”

Now, ethyl alcohol (the kind found in boozy beverages, also known as ethanol) can kill cells and microorganisms. That’s what makes it an effective antiseptic. Your brain contains a few billion cells called neurons that send electrical and chemical messages between it and the other parts of the body. Obviously, you don’t want these little guys dying en masse. 

Fortunately, when you drink alcoholic beverages, your body tries not to let all of that ethanol roam around unchecked. Rather, your liver processes it and converts it into less toxic stuff. The liver can only work so fast, though, processing about 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits per hour. If you’re knocking drinks back fast enough that your liver can’t keep up, the excess alcohol hangs out in the blood and travels through the body until it can be processed. 

When this alcohol reaches the brain, it doesn’t kill the cells outright. What actually happens, according to Roberta Pentney, a cell biologist who studied alcohol and brain function for decades at SUNY Buffalo, is that the alcohol damages the parts of the cells that send and receive information. This causes problems with the way the cells communicate with each other and results in some of the impairments of intoxication. 

Researchers at Washington University found that alcohol, even when applied directly to neurons, didn’t kill them. Like in Pentney’s work, it just interfered with the way they transmit information. Specifically, the researchers showed that alcohol causes certain receptors on neurons to manufacture steroids that inhibit memory formation. 

Some alcoholics can experience neuron death as part of a disease called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. In these cases, the evidence again suggests that the disease and cell death aren’t caused by the alcohol itself, but a deficiency in the B vitamin thiamine and general malnutrition that often go hand in hand with alcoholism. 

For moderate drinkers, a number of studies from the last 15 years suggest that, far from killing brain cells, a little tipple is actually associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia. 


TOPICS: Food; Health/Medicine; Science
KEYWORDS: alcohol; brain; health; napl
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Cliff Clavin will be very disappointed.
1 posted on 04/02/2013 10:43:20 PM PDT by Slings and Arrows
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To: Slings and Arrows

.


2 posted on 04/02/2013 10:45:47 PM PDT by doc1019 (The rabbit hole that Obama is leading us down just gets deeper and deeper.)
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To: Slings and Arrows; MeekOneGOP; Conspiracy Guy; DocRock; King Prout; Darksheare; OSHA; ...


3 posted on 04/02/2013 10:46:15 PM PDT by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

I prefer the Buffalo theory…

http://www.davidstuff.com/humor/buffalo.htm

In an episode of “Cheers,” Cliff Clavin, the trivia-spouting, quirky, irksome mama’s boy mailman is seated at the bar describing the buffalo theory to his buddy, Norm Peterson, the beer loving heavyweight bar stool sitting perpetual patron.

Cliff expounds his “Buffalo Theory” to Norm:

“Well, you see, Norm, it’s like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it’s the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”


4 posted on 04/02/2013 10:50:41 PM PDT by TLI ( ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA)
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To: Slings and Arrows

In other news...

Liquor gets you drunk.


5 posted on 04/02/2013 10:54:48 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: Slings and Arrows

I drinking think doesnt” killcell brain
too much


6 posted on 04/02/2013 10:56:08 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: Slings and Arrows
Ugh, shocking claim. Drunk Man Rescued From Electricity Cable in China
7 posted on 04/02/2013 10:57:17 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: TLI

Believe it or not, that was pretty much the rationale behind treating schizophrenia with insulin shock therapy.


8 posted on 04/02/2013 11:01:16 PM PDT by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Lancey Howard

Drinking doesn’t kill brain cells but it does make them seem more attractive.


9 posted on 04/02/2013 11:01:43 PM PDT by Roscoe Karns
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To: Slings and Arrows
For moderate drinkers, a number of studies from the last 15 years suggest that, far from killing brain cells, a little tipple is actually associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Cheers!

10 posted on 04/02/2013 11:18:24 PM PDT by Jeff Winston
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To: Slings and Arrows

This report calls for more beer ! ! !


11 posted on 04/02/2013 11:24:43 PM PDT by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: Slings and Arrows
I remember in my young, young days sitting at a bar and a pretty young lady walked up and said .... Will you buy me a drink? I politely said ... yes. I was not prepared for what happened next. She went to cursing, yelling, almost to the point of attacking me with physical blows to the body. She went nuts. I sat there and remained calm as her friends moved in a restrained her. It was a sight to behold. Her friends holding her back and telling her to calm down. The bar tender standing there smiling and looking strangely at me ... Like I had done something. Later in the evening another of her friends came over to apologize for the actions of her friend. This is where the story becomes interesting ... See ya later.
12 posted on 04/02/2013 11:27:26 PM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: TLI

Nice theory. There’s probably one important attribute to beer that I’ve learned since high school. 5 pints makes any woman look like a Victoria’s Secret supermodel.


13 posted on 04/02/2013 11:31:11 PM PDT by max americana (fired liberals in our company after the election, & laughed while they cried (true story))
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To: doc1019

Me clicking on link, waiting for article to load:

“Please let the answer be no, please let the answer be no...”


14 posted on 04/02/2013 11:58:37 PM PDT by golux
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To: Slings and Arrows


15 posted on 04/03/2013 12:08:53 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: no-to-illegals


16 posted on 04/03/2013 12:12:48 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: JoeProBono

He should’ve asked somebody to hold his beer.


17 posted on 04/03/2013 12:22:41 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: JoeProBono

The Drunkest Man In The World:

http://youtube.com/watch?gl=US&client=mv-google&hl=en&v=8M_oBYNb6UU


18 posted on 04/03/2013 12:25:41 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows


19 posted on 04/03/2013 12:36:58 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: Slings and Arrows

It made Budweiser! LoL!


20 posted on 04/03/2013 12:43:42 AM PDT by Berlin_Freeper (You must be hated by Evil.)
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To: JoeProBono

LOL

That dummie deserved the crotch hit.


21 posted on 04/03/2013 12:44:25 AM PDT by laplata (The Answer To 1984 Is 1776)
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To: TLI

Cliff wisdom.


22 posted on 04/03/2013 12:46:23 AM PDT by gattaca ("Great things can be accomplished if you don't care who gets the credit." Ronald Reagan)
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To: JoeProBono

Doors can be tricky.


23 posted on 04/03/2013 1:47:10 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows
Happy Hour


24 posted on 04/03/2013 1:56:51 AM PDT by Daffynition (The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted. — D.H.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

A 6 pack once a year of Woodchuck’s hard cider about does it for me.


25 posted on 04/03/2013 2:22:26 AM PDT by MachIV
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To: no-to-illegals
Are you really gonna leave us hanging there?
26 posted on 04/03/2013 2:32:42 AM PDT by Bob
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To: JoeProBono

LOL! That was awesome. Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting an individual who utilizes the opposite method of “avoidance” ..I wonder if his head made a 3 Stooges coconut-like sound when it hit..*bonk*!!


27 posted on 04/03/2013 4:10:00 AM PDT by GrandJediMasterYoda (Someday our schools will teach the difference between "lose" and "loose")
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To: JoeProBono

By God man, a black hole has just opened up behind this young man and is sucking him in!


28 posted on 04/03/2013 4:15:13 AM PDT by GrandJediMasterYoda (Someday our schools will teach the difference between "lose" and "loose")
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To: JoeProBono

A hah! There is an explanation for that video! The blue fan! Its high rate of speed blew him back!


29 posted on 04/03/2013 4:16:08 AM PDT by GrandJediMasterYoda (Someday our schools will teach the difference between "lose" and "loose")
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To: Lancey Howard

Tee many martuni’s


30 posted on 04/03/2013 4:53:27 AM PDT by showme_the_Glory (ILLEGAL: prohibited by law. ALIEN: Owing political allegiance to another country or government)
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To: Bob

This will shorten the story somewhat and am sorry to leave you hanging. I believe that it was about at that time there was a stranger walked in the door, and said the following well known line at FR ... I’d Hit It!


31 posted on 04/03/2013 4:56:36 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: Bob
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giOj458x-_M .. A better explanation with a story with Legs. A warning on Legs.
32 posted on 04/03/2013 5:17:22 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: JoeProBono

Am surprised ... Thought there was not one single person paying attention.


33 posted on 04/03/2013 5:24:21 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: Slings and Arrows

of course drinking alcohol kills brain cells...but only the weak ones.


34 posted on 04/03/2013 5:36:09 AM PDT by Orangedog (An optimist is someone who tells you to 'cheer up' when things are going his way)
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To: Bob
One more explanation Bob. This one makes the most sense. Once upon a time ... there strangers that came to this planet. These strangers came in peace or so they said. Knowing what I know now ... the reason the strangers came from a galaxie far far away was for this planet's women. And that is the rest of the story.
35 posted on 04/03/2013 5:36:14 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: Lazamataz

courtesy ping.


36 posted on 04/03/2013 5:43:00 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: Slings and Arrows

So I guess maybe boozing isn’t the reason that after four years of college I wasn’t any smarter than when I went in.


37 posted on 04/03/2013 5:44:05 AM PDT by dblshot (I am John Galt.)
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To: Lazamataz
The theory is proved. More than 500+ hits in less than 45 minutes on the vid with warning.
38 posted on 04/03/2013 5:54:39 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: Slings and Arrows
I remember Peter Marshall asking George Gobel this same question once on "The Hollywood Squares.":

PETER MARSHALL: "George, true or false: consumption of large amounts of alcohol destroys brain cells."

GEORGE GOBEL: "Well Peter, I'll go with the obvious and say.....the Civil War."

39 posted on 04/03/2013 5:56:13 AM PDT by GreenHornet
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To: no-to-illegals

I really don’t drink.


40 posted on 04/03/2013 5:58:37 AM PDT by Lazamataz ("AP" clearly stands for American Pravda. Our news media has become completely and proudly Soviet.)
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To: Lazamataz
Me neither and hope you are not offended. It blended into a story so well. Space Aliens and explanations.
41 posted on 04/03/2013 6:05:21 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: Lazamataz

Paul Harvey gonna come back and get me for that.


42 posted on 04/03/2013 6:07:19 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: Slings and Arrows

You mean those memories I was trying to get rid aren’t going anywhere?

That makes me want to have another drink...


43 posted on 04/03/2013 6:12:23 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (I will not comply.)
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To: Dead Corpse

Howdy Paul.


44 posted on 04/03/2013 6:20:45 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: JoeProBono

...and he was the designated driver.


45 posted on 04/03/2013 6:28:38 AM PDT by RetSignman ("...a Republic if you can keep it")
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To: no-to-illegals

It takes a lot to offend me.


46 posted on 04/03/2013 6:29:15 AM PDT by Lazamataz ("AP" clearly stands for American Pravda. Our news media has become completely and proudly Soviet.)
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To: no-to-illegals

Paul? I’d prefer to be called Ivan. Gunnar will also work in a pinch...

None of those are my real name, but I’ll answer to them with a couple of stiff drinks in me...


47 posted on 04/03/2013 6:33:33 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (I will not comply.)
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To: Lazamataz
Thanks Laz. Still worried about Paul Harvey though. Have been reading up on zombies and all the government warnings. What would Paul Harvey say? It may be a NK trick with both NK and Iran providing the zombies. Brain cells ... it is good the story has been told and the rest is history with the future unknown. I think Asia, the Middle East, and other parts of the world missed out on some of the breeding process when the Aliens came or too much inbreeding as has been accused of Americans with Aliens. I hope there was one LOL in the postings this A.M.
48 posted on 04/03/2013 6:35:48 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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To: Dead Corpse; Lazamataz

OOOPPPPSEY. Don’t be guilty of killing brain cells. Laz is the one you want. Laz is the brain of this operation. I haven’t been able to get off the operating table.


49 posted on 04/03/2013 6:39:17 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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as the article mentions it is the antiseptics.
50 posted on 04/03/2013 6:44:39 AM PDT by no-to-illegals (Scrutinize our government and Secure the Blessing of Freedom and Justice)
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