Skip to comments.Does Drinking Kill Brain Cells?
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 lets go back to that building thingy, where our beds and TV is. - Homer Simpson
Watch someone after theyve had a few drinks, and youll 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, its 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. Thats 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 dont 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 youre knocking drinks back fast enough that your liver cant 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 doesnt 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, didnt kill them. Like in Pentneys 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 arent 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.
That dummie deserved the crotch hit.
Doors can be tricky.
A 6 pack once a year of Woodchuck’s hard cider about does it for me.
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*!!
By God man, a black hole has just opened up behind this young man and is sucking him in!
A hah! There is an explanation for that video! The blue fan! Its high rate of speed blew him back!
Tee many martuni’s
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!
Am surprised ... Thought there was not one single person paying attention.
of course drinking alcohol kills brain cells...but only the weak ones.
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.
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."
I really don’t drink.
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